Pigeon racers losing out to mainland

The rapidly increasing number of racing pigeon fanciers in mainland China is threatening Taiwan’s place in the Federation Colombophile Internationale, the world pigeon racing body.

Taiwan’s racing pigeon community was very active in the 1960’s. Thanks to its economic boom Taiwan pigeon fanciers were able to pay handsome prices for champion European racing pigeons for breeding during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The Chinese Taipei Racing Pigeon Association had been a standing FCI council director for many years.

According to a pigeon enthusiast, a Taiwan businessman once spent NT$40 million (US$1.24 million) to purchase an entire racing pigeon coop from abroad, thus securing Taiwan’s position in the FCI. At that time, the ROC national flag was raised during FCI meetings.

However, Taiwan’s status has changed as mainland China has become an important participant in the organization. With its rapid economic rise recently, the population of racing pigeon trainers in the Chinese mainland has reached 2 million, with 300,000 registered as FCI members, and they have spent huge amounts of money purchasing breeding pigeons. Only 3,000 Taiwan pigeon fanciers are members of the FCI.

The FCI currently has 56 member countries worldwide, including Asian countries such as mainland China, Thailand, the Philippines and Japan. FCI members convene every two years and the Olympiade, a major racing pigeon competition, is held at the same time. The 31st Olympiade took place in Fritzlar, Germany in September 2009.

Taiwan did not participate in the 31st Olympiade, nor did it attend the 2008 FCI committee meeting. The FCI has therefore removed Taiwan from its position as a permanent council director.

Jiang Jin-tang, head of CTRPA, confirmed Taiwan’s absence in FCI activities over the past two years. “It costs a lot of money to travel to Europe. The association has a small budget since it has not hosted events for a while,” Jiang explained, adding that “there are also language problems.”

“We asked Taiwan students studying in Europe to help gather information about the FCI. And we have paid our dues every year,” Jiang said. “At least, we get to keep our membership in the FCI.”

Jiang noted that the Chinese mainland has been trying to replace Taiwan in the FCI in recent years. “We are able to keep our membership because of Taiwan pigeon fanciers’ strong purchasing power,” he pointed out. “But the thing is that the mainland has 2 million racing pigeon fanciers. All we can do is try our best to maintain our membership.” (LC-THN)



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