The renaming of BirdLife International’s Taiwan chapter from Wild Bird Federation Taiwan to the Chinese Wild Bird Federation has caused an uproar among some of Taiwan’s bird lovers, with the founding president of the Wild Bird Society of Penghu, Lin Chang-hsing (林長興), saying that he will call for members to resign from the Chinese Wild Bird Federation.
Apart from refusing to pay yearly membership fees to the Chinese Wild Bird Federation, Lin said he would invite fellow bird enthusiasts to set up a new federation for wild birds using the words “Taiwan” or “Taiwanese.”
When the Taiwan chapter was first established, it used the English name Chinese Wild Bird Federation to join BirdLife International. However, given the word “Chinese” often led people to think the Chinese Wild Bird Federation belonged to China, the name was changed to Wild Bird Federation Taiwan in 2001, while its Chinese name remained unchanged as “Wild Bird Federation of Republic of China (ROC) (中華民國野鳥學會).”
Starting in 2005 however, China reportedly started pressuring BirdLife International to stop using the Chinese characters Zhonghua Minguo (中華民國), meaning ROC, in the Chinese name, and “Taiwan” in the English name. It was reported that China said if BirdLife International did not get the Wild Bird Federation Taiwan to stop using that name, it would mean it supported Taiwan “and a divided China.”
Wild Bird Federation Taiwan was firmly against changing its name, but at the start of this year, it yielded to BirdLife International’s request to have its Chinese name changed from Zhonghua Minguo Yeniao Xuehui (中華民國野鳥學會) to Zhonghua Niaohui (中華鳥會) and that its English name be changed back to “Chinese Wild Bird Federation.”
Lin yesterday said most of Taiwan’s bird lovers are solely interested in bird conservation and dislike politics. However, with the federation being pressured into changing names by China and BirdLife International, it was inevitable that many people in the international community would mistakenly think that the “Chinese Wild Bird Federation” belonged to China, he said, adding that one who supports Taiwan would not stand for this.
Lin said he hoped all Taiwanese bird lovers who do not wish to see the chapter turned into an organization controlled by China would resign from the chapter and establish a new group called “Taiwanese Wild Bird Federation” (台灣鳥盟).
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