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Chinese Wild Bird Federation statement on removal from BirdLife International (1 Viewer)

thedipper_hk

Active member
United States
https://www.bird.org.tw/news/585

This is the start of a lengthy statement from the Taiwanese CWBF Secretariat on being booted out of BirdLife International. Statement issued 9/15/2020. Under a previous name Wild Bird Federation Taiwan, they were a founding partner of BirdLife International in 1996.

It is with great sadness that the Chinese Wild Bird Federation must announce its removal from the BirdLife International partnership. Though a proud, faithful, and strong member of the partnership since 1996, the CWBF was told in December 2019 that it now posed a risk to BirdLife International due to its Chinese name (中華民國野鳥學會).

To rectify this, BirdLife International had required the CWBF to change its legally registered name in Chinese. This was something that the CWBF, as a loyal partner, was willing to discuss. In fact, the CWBF had previously changed its English name three times at the behest of BirdLife International. BirdLife's governing body, the Global Council, also required the CWBF to sign a document formally committing to not promote or advocate the legitimacy of the Republic of China or the independence of Taiwan from China. As an apolitical organization which has never taken a stance on any such issue, we felt it was inappropriate to sign such a document and were unable to comply. We are not political actors, we are conservationists.

An article from the UK's Telegraph where the reporter asked BirdLife for a response and was essential stonewalled. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/20...rs-bird-group-ejected-birdlife-international/
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
Surely no surprise.
We all know China is totally paranoid about any potential erosion to their 'one China' posture.
Bird Life correctly decided that their mission would be better served by keeping China happy.
Taiwan is consequently collateral damage. They are no dummies, they clearly saw this as an increasing risk and tried to finesse it, but were not allowed to do so. Conservation is the poorer for this, even if this helps helps make bird protection more popular in China.
 

johnallcock

Well-known member
I've been seeing a lot about this in the last couple of days, much of which seems to be pushing an anti-China agenda and criticising BirdLife for the decision. I think the situation is not quite as simple as people are making it out to be.

BirdLife has been trying to engage in China for a long time (at least the last 15-20 years, probably longer). For various reasons they have been unable to get a partner based in China, with one of the main problems being that there is a Taiwanese partner.

The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (HKBWS) have had a long history of trying to facilitate BirdLife engagement in China, and HKBWS was eventually made a partner a few years ago to help this. HKBWS was helping to fund conservation projects in China.
But then two years ago China introduced a new law requiring NGOs working in the mainland to have an office in there. This has made it difficult for HKBWS to engage in China as they were, and thus makes it difficult for BirdLife to fund any conservation work there.
To add to this, the new National Security Law in HK means that organisations like HKBWS and BirdLife have to be very careful about their activities relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong and the mainland. We still don't really understand the implications of this law. There is also now some uncertainty about whether HKBWS can maintain its status as partner.

I suspect that BirdLife has found itself forced into a position where having a partner in Taiwan (especially one using the name China) prevents them doing any conservation work in mainland China and has had to decide which jurisdiction is their priority.
Taiwan has a long history or conservation and birds there are generally well protected, thanks largely to organisations like CWBF. Mainland China is very different - there is still a lot of illegal hunting, and very rapid development on ecologically sensitive sites. There are many threatened species, and conservation work in China will be essential to prevent the extinction of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Baer's Pochard, Jankowski's Bunting, Siberian Crane, Nordmann's Greenshank and many more threatened species.

From the point of view of conservation, I guess they have decided the money will be more productive in China than in Taiwan. Taiwanese NGOs may still be able to engage in a less formal capacity and maintain close relations with other regional BirdLife partners (as HKBWS did before it was a partner), and I hope CWBF will continue to engage in this way.

Yes, this involves national politics (as does anything involving China/Taiwan) and yes, it is unfair to CWBF, but ultimately it is appropriate for BirdLife to decide what is better for bird conservation, not make a political statement on the two forms of government.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Hi John

Many thanks for your analysis of the situation with regard to BL and China/Taiwan and putting it into a sensible perspective. While not a political organisation, BirdLife has to work in some very challenging geo-political regions of the world where pragmatism is often the only way forward. In the light of the current security crackdown in HK too, there may be further compromises that might have to be made. I have absolutely no doubt, for the sake of pursuing much needed conservation objectives in China, BirdLife made absolutely the right decision as a conservation organisation despite it likely to be seen as further capitulation to China’s agenda towards Taiwan.
 

James Eaton

Trent Valley Crew
Yes, this involves national politics (as does anything involving China/Taiwan) and yes, it is unfair to CWBF, but ultimately it is appropriate for BirdLife to decide what is better for bird conservation, not make a political statement on the two forms of government.

The start of a very dangerous precedent, John, and who is to say HKBWS won't be next? Or another Birdlife Asia partner? Especially if BirdLife International actually gained a Chinese partner.
It destabilises the working environment many of the other partners have with CWBF, and puts them in a very difficult position. I'm looking forward to BirdLife International statement.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-t...g-order-over-taiwan-china-issue-idUKKBN2690BX

Honesty goes a long way in my book, those in Taiwan are obviously well aware of the politics - perhaps some honesty, instead of a cloak-and-dagger approach would be far better received, and understood.

James

#milkteaalliance
 
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etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
The start of a very dangerous precedent, John, and who is to say HKBWS won't be next? Or another Birdlife Asia partner? Especially if BirdLife International actually gained a Chinese partner.
It destabilises the working environment many of the other partners have with CWBF, and puts them in a very difficult position. I'm looking forward to BirdLife International statement.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-t...g-order-over-taiwan-china-issue-idUKKBN2690BX

Honesty goes a long way in my book, those in Taiwan are obviously well aware of the politics - perhaps some honesty, instead of a cloak-and-dagger approach would be far better received, and understood.

James

#milkteaalliance

As you point out, all organizations where Taiwan is a member, whether wildlife conservation, environmental, industrial or engineering standards etc,
are going to be confronted with this issue.
I believe essentially all of them will roll over for the same pragmatic reasons that BirdLife did, China matters more than Taiwan.
Where it will get interesting is in those sectors where Taiwan is a global force, notably advanced semiconductors, where TSMC has half or more of the global production capacity while China has the market volume.
The only way these multinational organizations may be able to avoid this is to prohibit any non specific resolutions in advance, so the topic cannot be raised, but I'd not bet on that working..
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
As you point out, all organizations where Taiwan is a member, whether wildlife conservation, environmental, industrial or engineering standards etc,
are going to be confronted with this issue.
I believe essentially all of them will roll over for the same pragmatic reasons that BirdLife did, China matters more than Taiwan.
Where it will get interesting is in those sectors where Taiwan is a global force, notably advanced semiconductors, where TSMC has half or more of the global production capacity while China has the market volume.
The only way these multinational organizations may be able to avoid this is to prohibit any non specific resolutions in advance, so the topic cannot be raised, but I'd not bet on that working..
And indeed the global community and the businesses that operate within it. This is just the continuation of the thickening of the wedge China has already applied, is applying, and will apply, (as in the case of Hong Kong that we see now).
It was just two short years ago that China issued 'ultimatums' to the global airline industry to remove all separate reference to Taiwan.
Australia's QANTAS (among many internationally), duly rolled over like a trained circus animal - and exhibiting the same amount of any real freedom too ......

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.abc.net.au/article/9833606








Chosun :gh:
 

johnallcock

Well-known member
The start of a very dangerous precedent, John, and who is to say HKBWS won't be next? Or another Birdlife Asia partner? Especially if BirdLife International actually gained a Chinese partner.
It destabilises the working environment many of the other partners have with CWBF, and puts them in a very difficult position. I'm looking forward to BirdLife International statement.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-t...g-order-over-taiwan-china-issue-idUKKBN2690BX

Honesty goes a long way in my book, those in Taiwan are obviously well aware of the politics - perhaps some honesty, instead of a cloak-and-dagger approach would be far better received, and understood.

James

#milkteaalliance

I certainly don't take the status of HKBWS as a partner for granted. It was not easy for us to become a partner and took several years of discussions. We are fully aware that it could be lost in future. Over the last 15 months Hong Kong people have learnt to accept that the future is unpredictable.

I agree that it will be interesting to see the official statement from BirdLife International. Hopefully that will provide more details about the reason for this decision.

It will also be interesting to see what the expectation is for the future relationship between CWBF and BirdLife. HKBWS spent many years as an Associate Member before becoming a full partner - this Associate Member status allowed us to work in close collaboration with partners and other associated organisations. I would have hoped that a similar situation would be possible with CWBF, although I am worried that the very public criticism of BirdLife by CWBF will make that difficult.

My previous comment was intended to highlight that the situation is not as clear-cut as the CWBF statement suggests, as I am aware that on a global forum such as this many people will not be fully aware of the complex situation or the legal situation for NGOs to operate in China.

As the CWBF statement claims, we should put politics aside for the benefit of conservation - in my opinion the CWBF comment and the media response (both social and traditional) have not achieved this.
 

thedipper_hk

Active member
United States
Unhappiness

Just one of the reasons Birdlife made the right (but not necessarily the fairest) decision imo
https://www.birdlife.org/worldwide/news/yellow-breasted-bunting-next-passenger-pigeon

This makes it seems as though the folks unhappy with this decision by BLI want wildlife to go extinct in the PRC *People's Republic of China*.

i) 3 years on and BLI has no viable mainland partner. All of this work was done with CWBF as a partner. CWBF may have changed their name to replace Taiwan with Chinese in their English name to make BLI happy, which means it's not CWBF or the press making things political. We know where the political changes are coming from. I know that things have changed politically in the PRC and it's increasingly difficult to be an NGO in the PRC, but do you ditch a viable partner for no partner with the promise that the folks who are making demands of you to ditch the viable partner will find one to meet you at the altar at some point in the future because they offer you a wealth of opportunities for success and fame in rescuing the damsels in distress?

ii) The last big mainstream coverage of the Yellow-breasted Bunting in PRC state-owned media followed this 2017 BLI statement. Backroom meetings since then have not pushed the public needle on PRC conservation of migratory birds in any major way. I'd give more credit to the major bird bloggers in the PRC than any negotiations that BLI (or their reps) have had over the last 8 years. For example, this SCMP article from a year later finds one of them tipping off one of the world's largest e-commerce sites in China that YBB were for sale on their site. Note the response: We're happy to take action on such future reports instead of we'll prevent any such illegal activity from happening on our site.

iii) The actual legwork for this article was by Wieland Heim & co with the Amur Bird Project, HKBWS, folks out of Hokkaido, and uncertainly separate folks on Sakhalin Island *which is also disputed territory but birders and their associations and governments in Russia/Japan seem to ignore that at least when it comes to conservation* (side note: I haven't seen any updates this fall from the Amur Bird Project on their blog and wondered how conditions were with the tundra fires in the Russian Far East.) There is a big black box in the middle of this geographic region with nothing beyond meetings and posters and a 1 week media campaign. If the PRC authorities were a conservation partner in good faith, this wouldn't be the issue.

iv) Over the last 50 years, the standard PRC govt reaction to species being eaten to extinction is a captive breeding campaign or extending the reach of supply lines. There has been some movement to remove endangered species from the list of livestock animals in the PRC this spring/summer, but as with all regulations there is the matter of enforcement and the govt continues to subsidise their long-range fishing fleet depleting seas off S America, Africa, and the Southern Oceans. And when their fleets have been caught illegally fishing/shark finning in the past, you can guess who the PRC govt blames for their fleet's actions. Taiwan.

v) And the reports I have read from folks visiting the PRC's eastern shore wader/shorebird preserves is less than encouraging. The last report I read from a local who helped advise on setting up at least one of these was not an enouraging return visit a few months ago. My thoughts reading it made it seem that to make up for lost revenue from property development of mud flats/mangroves, that the govts were pushing mass tourism which was pushing the areas towards a Hong Kong Wetland Park feel. Woe to the East Asian Flyway if HKWP becomes either the educational or conservation model for mud flats/mangroves along the PRC's eastern coast.
 

Chosun Juan

Given to Fly
Australia - Aboriginal
This makes it seems as though the folks unhappy with this decision by BLI want wildlife to go extinct in the PRC *People's Republic of China*.

i) 3 years on and BLI has no viable mainland partner. All of this work was done with CWBF as a partner. CWBF may have changed their name to replace Taiwan with Chinese in their English name to make BLI happy, which means it's not CWBF or the press making things political. We know where the political changes are coming from. I know that things have changed politically in the PRC and it's increasingly difficult to be an NGO in the PRC, but do you ditch a viable partner for no partner with the promise that the folks who are making demands of you to ditch the viable partner will find one to meet you at the altar at some point in the future because they offer you a wealth of opportunities for success and fame in rescuing the damsels in distress?

ii) The last big mainstream coverage of the Yellow-breasted Bunting in PRC state-owned media followed this 2017 BLI statement. Backroom meetings since then have not pushed the public needle on PRC conservation of migratory birds in any major way. I'd give more credit to the major bird bloggers in the PRC than any negotiations that BLI (or their reps) have had over the last 8 years. For example, this SCMP article from a year later finds one of them tipping off one of the world's largest e-commerce sites in China that YBB were for sale on their site. Note the response: We're happy to take action on such future reports instead of we'll prevent any such illegal activity from happening on our site.

iii) The actual legwork for this article was by Wieland Heim & co with the Amur Bird Project, HKBWS, folks out of Hokkaido, and uncertainly separate folks on Sakhalin Island *which is also disputed territory but birders and their associations and governments in Russia/Japan seem to ignore that at least when it comes to conservation* (side note: I haven't seen any updates this fall from the Amur Bird Project on their blog and wondered how conditions were with the tundra fires in the Russian Far East.) There is a big black box in the middle of this geographic region with nothing beyond meetings and posters and a 1 week media campaign. If the PRC authorities were a conservation partner in good faith, this wouldn't be the issue.

iv) Over the last 50 years, the standard PRC govt reaction to species being eaten to extinction is a captive breeding campaign or extending the reach of supply lines. There has been some movement to remove endangered species from the list of livestock animals in the PRC this spring/summer, but as with all regulations there is the matter of enforcement and the govt continues to subsidise their long-range fishing fleet depleting seas off S America, Africa, and the Southern Oceans. And when their fleets have been caught illegally fishing/shark finning in the past, you can guess who the PRC govt blames for their fleet's actions. Taiwan.

v) And the reports I have read from folks visiting the PRC's eastern shore wader/shorebird preserves is less than encouraging. The last report I read from a local who helped advise on setting up at least one of these was not an enouraging return visit a few months ago. My thoughts reading it made it seem that to make up for lost revenue from property development of mud flats/mangroves, that the govts were pushing mass tourism which was pushing the areas towards a Hong Kong Wetland Park feel. Woe to the East Asian Flyway if HKWP becomes either the educational or conservation model for mud flats/mangroves along the PRC's eastern coast.

:t:

Exactly. Objecting to one 'injustice' does not automatically confer support for another, or a lack of care about a situation.

Things such as 'global' conservation should be above politics - especially the kind that sees free peoples and organizations coerced into kowtowing to totalitarian regimes 'sensitive' to truth, and all too ready to back their delusions with 'hard' military power as a form of political position.






Chosun :gh:
 
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Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
This makes it seems as though the folks unhappy with this decision by BLI want wildlife to go extinct in the PRC *People's Republic of China*.

No of course this is not the intention for posting this link and I do not believe the plight of a critically threatened bird should ever be appropriated in such a way in order to play political football. This is a public discussion not just a dialogue between the directly effected and concerned parties (such as represented by yourself, James and John above). Therefore, there will be many users on this forum not aware of how difficult managing conservation of critically endangered species are in the region of E/SE Asia or why, or may have little knowledge of the species involved.

For birders in the UK at least, because of the recent vagrancy of a Yellow-breasted Bunting here this week, highlighting IUCN/BLI concerns for this species by posting this link (which I also posted on the Rare Bird Information btw) has the added advantage of being topical so hopefully not only raises awareness of the species’s vulnerability to the twitching/birding community in the UK but also helps to highlight the current geo-political conundrums faced by parties struggling to prevent the extinction of this species (and others likewise threatened) in E/SE Asia.

While ‘conservation’ should ideally ‘be kept above politics’, in the ‘real world’, they are necessarily inextricably linked as it is ‘policy’ that implements the conservation imperatives and ensures its continuance. Likewise, having had some contact with ornithologists working in other parts of the world in circumstances particularly challenging and often as very much a minority group, I have always maintained partnership and global support is crucial, not only to achieve practical objectives but to encourage those who might otherwise be discouraged having to work in political and cultural environments antagonistic to their efforts. It’s these two aspects that I hope will help reconcile a very difficult situation going forward.
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
I find it absurd to blame BirdLife here, they do not really exist to do politics but to conserve birds and in the current situation, choosing the bigger China is the logical step to do that. The mistake lies solely on the western countries who should have long ago assumed a similar stance of boycott towards the PRC, both in organization and in economy. But alas, money speaks and the whole west is deep into China's pockets.

I imagine that if the EU said to BirdLife "if you drop Taiwan, we drop you", they would easily choose the EU over the PRC. One can only dream.
 

etudiant

Registered User
Supporter
This discussion simply underlines that Taiwan has no chance of surviving in international bodies, China is determined to extirpate them from international presence.
That suggests that Taiwan urgently needs to find a better way to be considered.

A tie in with another island nation such as Madagascar might be one option, but of course seems incompatible with the Taiwan claim to be the legitimate rulers of China.
 

thedipper_hk

Active member
United States
A tie in with another island nation such as Madagascar might be one option, but of course seems incompatible with the Taiwan claim to be the legitimate rulers of China.

Almost no one in Taiwan claims to be the legitimate rulers of China. In fact most would be happy to see The Republic of China name, the flag, and the anthem go away. See the new design of the Taiwan/Republic of China passport as an example of this. Of course the PRC has threatened to military invade Taiwan if they drop the claim to rule the mainland, change the name of the country, or the national symbols.

What they have done recently is forge an alliance with Somaliland, another of those country/non-country places.

and since this is a bird forum, let me raise a glass to salute the late Robert Tovey and remember one of his last series of posts including a few from Somaliland. Robert Tovey/Birding for a Lark: Day 1 in Somaliland
 

thedipper_hk

Active member
United States
I find it absurd to blame BirdLife here, they do not really exist to do politics but to conserve birds and in the current situation, choosing the bigger China is the logical step to do that.

And this is the core of the question I was trying to get to in my post yesterday. If your goal is to conserve birds, do you choose to maintain the partnership with an association backed by a government that are actually conserving their birds or seeking a partnership with an association to be named later that will be provided to you by a government whose environmental conservation record is sketchy at best?

And this came up in my feed reader today A trip report up at Shanghai Birding on Birding the Jiangsu Coast last month. The list of birds for 3 days is pretty fun and shows why these spots on the coast are so important to be conserved. I'm happy that the PRC govt moved on protecting these spaces at least legally. Read the report and you might see reasons to wonder if the PR from protecting these spaces in name was more important than doing the actual work to protect them as critical habitat for migrating shorebirds along the East Asian Flyway.

And let me say that I've seen some great bird research papers come out of the PRC, so there are home-grown experts that could provide the guidance to clean up these issues, if the powers that be were concerned or interested in listening.
 

johnallcock

Well-known member
And this is the core of the question I was trying to get to in my post yesterday. If your goal is to conserve birds, do you choose to maintain the partnership with an association backed by a government that are actually conserving their birds or seeking a partnership with an association to be named later that will be provided to you by a government whose environmental conservation record is sketchy at best?

Why isn't the best option to try to maintain a partnership with an established Non-Governmental Organisation (not "backed by a government"), while building capacity for smaller NGOs to develop and funding on-the-ground conservation actions where they are most needed?

Would this have been possible if CWBF had agreed to sign the document requested by BLI that they would not participate in activities promoting Taiwan independence or use the BLI logo on documents funded by organisations supporting independence?
This is a genuine question, I don't know the answer. From the CWBF statement, it seems that it is their refusal to commit to this document that has precipitated the change, not pressure from anyone in PRC.

Despite your comment, there is no suggestion that BLI have been trying to engage a partner in mainland China. As far as I am aware, there is no organisation there that qualifies for BLI partnership.


It's a shame that you are so dismissive (or unaware?) of the work that HKBWS and BLI have been doing in China. They have been working with small, regional NGOs to carry out survey work for waterbirds (especially Spoon-billed Sandpiper); to search for, remove and report illegal mist nets, and pressure local officials to take action on illegal trapping; to identify and protect sites for threatened species such as Jankowski's Bunting, Blue-crowned Laughingthrush, Chinese Grassbird and Scaly-sided Merganser, etc. This work has paid off in some areas, for example with a reported reduction in illegal hunting along the Guangdong coast. With no funding and no support, there is a risk that these fledgling regional NGOs will be unable to continue this work. These small NGOs and the work that they have done may not currently be high-profile on the global stage, but that is no reason to assume that they are not important or that they will not achieve more in the future.

Trying to change attitude and policies of PRC on conservation, as you are calling for, might take a very long time, but it will only be achieved if you are in a position to engage with them directly, not watching from the sidelines.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
And this is the core of the question I was trying to get to in my post yesterday. If your goal is to conserve birds, do you choose to maintain the partnership with an association backed by a government that are actually conserving their birds or seeking a partnership with an association to be named later that will be provided to you by a government whose environmental conservation record is sketchy at best?

Yesterday your response to the YBB link was to suggest it was done to somehow show that the critics of BLI’s handling of this situation are not supportive of conservation in the PRC. I hope you accept this was not the case based on my post yesterday? I understood it was CWBF refusing to sign a document asking them to commit to not promoting political objectives that resulted in the present situation with BLI. I apologise if this is a misrepresentation or over simplification, obviously there are complexities to which I may not be aware but would CWBF’s priority goal to conserve birds in Taiwan (and the PRC) have been better served by signing the document?
 
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