Mon, Aug 20, 2007 - Page 3 News List

WBFT to protest name change request in the UK

By Cheng Hsu-kai  /  Staff Reporter, Cambridge, England

The Wild Bird Federation Taiwan (WBFT) has rejected repeated requests by BirdLife International, yielding to pressure from China, demanding the federation drop "Taiwan" from its name and plans to protest against the action.

WBFT chairman Kuo Tung-hui (郭東輝), Wild Bird Society of Taipei chairman Liu Hsin-pai (劉新白), and former BirdLife Asia division director Simon Liao (廖世卿) made their position clear during a meeting with Mou Hua-wei (牟華偉), Taiwan's representative to the UK in Cambridge on Thursday.

Kuo, Liu and Liao arrived in the UK last week to participate in the annual British Birdwatching Fair held near Cambridge.

The WBFT is a member of BirdLife International. Liu said the WBFT had been previously known as the "Chinese Wild Bird Association."

However, the federation was constantly mistaken for an organization from China when it participated for the first time in the British Birdwatching Fair in 1999, Liao said.

As a result, Liu said he proposed to change the English name of the federation to "Wild Bird Federation Taiwan" as recommended by former chairman of BirdLife International Gerard Bertrand.

However, after Bertrand finished his term, "current chairman Peter [Schei] decided to cater to the unreasonable requests [by asking the federation to drop the word `Taiwan' from its name,]" Liao said.

Schei did so with the intention of attracting Chinese participation in the organization, Liao said.

At the moment, there is no partnership between BirdLife International and any similar organization in China.

Liao said bird watchers in Taiwan will absolutely not accept BirdLife International's demands.

Kuo, Liao and Liu said they planned to protest at BirdLife International's headquarters in Cambridge during their stay.

The WBFT's situation is the latest of China's incessant moves to downgrade Taiwan groups' status in international organizations.

In May, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) adopted a draft resolution submitted by China at its International Committee's 75th general session in Paris to downgrade Taiwan's status to a "non-sovereign regional member."

China's proposal requets that Taiwan's title within the OIE be changed from "Taipei, China" to "Taiwan, China."

After mediation by the US and the EU, the motion was altered to have Taiwan's title changed to "Chinese Taipei," although the proposal to downgrade the country's status was not changed.

Taiwan became a member of the OIE in 1954 as the "Republic of China (Taiwan)," but it was forced to change its membership name to "Taipei, China" after China was admitted in 1992.

China remain unhappy with that appelation and has continued to push the OIE to alter it.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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