Foxconn founder Terry Gou says he has reached Taiwan election bid threshold

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of major Apple supplier Foxconn, said on Friday he had already collected enough electorate signatures to qualify to stand as an independent in January’s presidential election.

Gou announced his bid in August, saying he wanted to unite the opposition and ensure the island did not become “the next Ukraine”, blaming the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for taking Taiwan to the brink of war by antagonising China which claims the island as its own territory.

Gou was the fourth person to throw his hat in the ring, but his poll numbers have put him at the bottom and well behind the front-runner, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) William Lai, who is currently vice president.

Speaking to supporters at a temple in Banqiao outside of Taipei, Gou said he had already on Wednesday collected enough signatures to qualify to be on the ballot, his campaign said in a statement.

“Your signatures are a responsibility for me, and your signatures are a spur and encouragement to me. I will continue to work hard to the end,” it quoted him as saying.

Gou, who stepped down as Foxconn chief in 2019, must gather close to 300,000 voter signatures by Nov. 2 to qualify as an independent candidate, according election regulations.

The Central Election Commission will review the signatures and announce the results by Nov. 14.

Gou’s efforts to unite the opposition to “take down the DPP” have made little apparent progress.

Instead, Taiwan’s main opposition party the Kuomintang, which traditionally favours close ties with China, and the small Taiwan People’s Party have been considering how they might work together against the DPP, potentially by having their presidential candidates team up.

The DPP’s Lai has remained steadfastly ahead in almost all polls. Lai says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future and has repeatedly offered talks which Beijing has rebuffed as they view him as a separatist.

The DPP champions Taiwan’s separate identity from China.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Toby Chopra)