Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Greenpeace Tuna Protest:- Divide and conquer ?

On Monday [24th January] a member of Greenpeace launched the first ever Greenpeace protest in Taiwan by trying to stop a tuna carrier from leaving the port of Kaohsiung. The Taipei Times reported that a protester climbed onto the anchor cable of the refrigerated tuna transporter the Lung Yuin shortly before the vessel was to leave port. The protester, a Thai citizen, was arrested by port police. On article on the Greenpeace website states that the activist has since been released without being charged.

Because of the political standoff between China and Taiwan most mainstream environmental organisations won't work in Taiwan for fear of upsetting the Chinese Bear across the Taiwan Strait which could impact negatively on their work in China. Given that Taiwan is one of the world's great biodiversity hotspots it is a great tragedy that this island of extreme natural wonder is held ransom by the fear of upsetting the authoritarian regime across the Strait. Against this backdrop, it is encouraging to see that Greenpeace seems to have an interest in working in Taiwan and exposing some of the issues the Taiwanese environmental movement has been up against for many years.

While most in Taiwan's environmental movement appreciate the apparent desire of Greenpeace to do something about the nation's notorious tuna industry there is without a doubt tremendous suspicion of Greenpeace's motives.

Local environmental groups remember well the fiasco of how Greenpeace China tried to establish a subordinate office in Taiwan that seemed nothing short of another attempt at forcing Beijing's "One China" policy on the people of Taiwan. Many local environmental groups will also remember how when seeking support from Greenpeace over the Hushan Dam issue that Greenpeace seemed to lead the environmental alliance against the Hushan Dam up the garden path and then refused to help the local environmental effort or even send the Taiwan Government a letter of concern over the environmental impact of the project.

If Greenpeace sincerely wishes to work in Taiwan it really needs to start off in a spirit of transparency and reconciliation. Greenpeace can't hope to achieve anything meaningful and lasting in Taiwan without local support. Greenpeace needs to clearly state just what its motives are. Without Greenpeace clearing the air and taking steps to address the fiasco and insulting behaviour that characterised the attempt of Greenpeace China to bring Beijing's brand of the environmental movement to Taiwan Greenpeace is doing nothing short of undermining the efforts of the local environmental movement and their effectiveness. If Greenpeace can clear the air and truly partner the local environmental movement in a spirit of respect and equality they are sure to discover that the Taiwan environmental movement will welcome their efforts with open arms; and hopefully see Greenpeace taking a stand for efforts to save Taiwan's west coast and the pink dolphins.

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