(This September 15 story corrects to show general assembly was held by Chinese Wild Bird Federation, not Birdlife, in paragraph 10)
TAIPEI (Reuters) - A Taiwan conservation group said on Tuesday it had been kicked out of a British-based wild bird protection body after it had been asked and refused to sign a document stating it did not advocate for the Chinese-claimed island’s independence.
China has stepped up pressure on international bodies to exclude Taiwan, including non-governmental groups, from participating unless they accept they come from China rather than separately-governed Taiwan.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Taiwan’s Chinese Wild Bird Federation (CWBF) said the Cambridge-based BirdLife International had removed it as a partner organisation.
It said BirdLife’s governing body had asked them 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”.
The Republic of China is Taiwan’s formal name.
“As an apolitical organisation 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.”
BirdLife, whose honorary president is Japan’s Princess Takamado, did not respond to an emailed request for comment nor answer several calls to its main British office.
BirdLife lists only one Chinese partner on its website, a group based in Hong Kong.
The Taiwanese group said BirdLife asked them to change their name, and that even if they did this and signed the political documents they may still be removed as a “risk”.
While the matter was due to be discussed at CWBF’s general assembly, BirdLife’s governing body decided the Taiwan federation had not addressed these risks and voted to remove it as a partner body, the group added.
While the matter was due to be discussed at BirdLife’s general assembly, its governing global body decided the Taiwan federation had not addressed these risks and voted to remove it as a partner body, the group added.
“We at the CWBF are no risk. What we are is a strong and effective partner in global conservation with a proven track-record,” it said. “Birds don’t know borders!”
The group said it looked forward to continuing to work with other international partners and be a “true partner” in bird conservation.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore
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