Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou announced his intention to run in Taiwan’s presidential election as an independent, deepening competition among the opposition contenders for the job.
(Bloomberg) — Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou announced his intention to run in Taiwan’s presidential election as an independent, deepening competition among the opposition contenders for the job.
Gou declared his candidacy for the vote in January 2024 at a briefing in Taipei on Monday. For his bid to become official, he will need to secure the signatures of around 290,000 voters.
“Over the past seven years, I’ve witnessed Taiwan go from being prosperous to being on the brink of falling off a cliff in many aspects, including the economy, national defense and foreign affairs,” he said. “If we don’t pull back now, it will be too late to save Taiwan from falling. We have to take down the Democratic Progressive Party.”
Having teased a potential bid for weeks, Gou’s announcement puts him in direct competition with Hou Yu-ih of the opposition Kuomintang for votes from Taiwanese who support closer ties between Taiwan and China. He will also face Vice President Lai Ching-te, the ruling DPP candidate who champions Taiwan’s status as an independent country.
Gou is a former member of the KMT so by joining the race he is likely hurting the chances of Hou, whose campaign has got off to a slow start. Just 15.2% of respondents would vote for Gou in a July poll by Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation, a private think tank. That trailed Lai, with a support rating of 33.9%, Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People’s Party with 20.5% support and Hou’s 18%.
“Out of concern for Taiwan’s geopolitical and economic situation, and strong belief in Taiwan’s democracy, I’ve been attempting to bring all the opposition parties together over the past few months,” he said at Monday’s event, noting however that his efforts had made “zero progress” so far because the other parties have their own considerations.
He also pledged to lift Taiwan’s per capita GDP above Singapore’s.
Gou has tried for the presidency before. In 2019, the tycoon handed over Foxconn’s day-to-day operations to new management to run an ultimately unsuccessful bid.
Gou criticized the DPP in an opinion piece in the Washington Post in July for causing tensions with Beijing, and called for Taiwan and China to resume direct talks under the one-China framework, a reference to the notion that Taiwan is a part of China. The DPP rejects the claim, viewing the island as an already de facto independent nation.
Gou has amassed the bulk of his roughly $7 billion fortune from having his Foxconn make various gadgets for the likes of Apple Inc. and Sony Group Corp. in China since the late 1980s. The majority of Apple’s iconic handsets are still assembled in Foxconn’s main manufacturing hub in central China, a massive campus that’s dubbed “iPhone city.”
As the largest shareholder in Foxconn, Gou dismissed concern the company’s large footprint in China would make him susceptible to pressure from Beijing.
“If the Chinese Communist regime threatens to confiscate the company’s property in China, I will say, ‘Yes! Please do it!’,” he said. “I can sacrifice my personal wealth in exchange for peace for Taiwan.”
–With assistance from Betty Hou.
(Adds quotes from Gou.)
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