Foxconn Founder Terry Gou Announces Run for Taiwan Presidency

Reuters file photo
Supporters take a selfie with Terry Gou, the retired founder of major Apple supplier Foxconn at a rally for legal reform and against high real estate prices in Taipei, Taiwan July 16, 2023.

TAIPEI, Aug 28 (Reuters) – Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of major Apple Inc AAPL.O supplier Foxconn 2317.TW, said on Monday he was entering the race to be Taiwan’s next president as an independent candidate in 2024 elections.

Gou stepped down as Foxconn chief in 2019 and made a presidential bid that year, but dropped out after he failed to win the nomination for Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang KMT, which traditionally favors close ties with China.

He made a second bid to be the KMT’s candidate for the presidential election to be held in January earlier this year, but the party chose instead Hou Yu-ih, the mayor of New Taipei City.

Gou has spent the past few weeks touring Taiwan and holding campaign-like rallies, fueling speculation he was planning to run as an independent.

“Under the rule of the Democratic Progressive Party in the past seven years or so, internationally, they lead Taiwan towards the danger of war. Domestically, their policies are filled with mistakes,” Gou said, adding “the era of entrepreneur’s rule” has begun.

“Give me four years and I promise that I will bring 50 years of peace to the Taiwan Strait and build the deepest foundation for the mutual trust across the strait,” he said in a plea to Taiwan voters.

“Taiwan must not become Ukraine and I will not let Taiwan become the next Ukraine.”

Gou must gather close to 300,000 voter signatures by November 2 to be qualified as an independent candidate, according elections regulations. The Central Election Commission will review the signatures and announce the results by November 14.

Taiwan Vice President William Lai, the presidential candidate for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is the favorite to win the election as he leads the polls.

Former Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je of the small Taiwan People’s Party has generally keen running second in the polls, with Hou a distant third.

Gou’s main theme in his pseudo-campaign events has been that the only way to avoid war with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, is to get the DPP out of office.

China has a particular dislike of Lai for comments he has previously made about being a “worker” for Taiwan independence, a red line for Beijing.

The DPP champions Taiwan’s separate identity from China, but the government it leads has repeatedly offered talks with China that have been rebuffed.

The run up to the election is taking place at a time of increased tensions between Taipei and Beijing, as China stages regular military exercises near the island to assert its sovereignty claims.