Foxconn founder Terry Gou announced that he would run as an independent candidate in Taiwan’s 2024 presidential elections.
Gou’s bid: Gou’s independent entry into the January race comes after previous failed attempts to lead the opposition party, the Kuomintang KMT. Earlier this year, the 72-year-old’s second bid to be the KMT’s candidate was unsuccessful as the party chose Hou Yu-ih, the mayor of New Taipei City.
Taiwan seeks a new president to replace the outgoing leader, Tsai Ing-wen, who is ineligible to run again due to term limits. To formalize his candidacy, Guo must secure 290,000 voter signatures by Nov. 2. The elections take place during the increased tensions between Taipei and Beijing as China stages military exercises near the island to assert its sovereignty claims.
“Taiwan must not become Ukraine”: At a press conference on Monday, Gou pledged to fix cross-strait relations, noting his plan to unite the opposition and ensure that the self-governed island will not become “the next Ukraine.” He criticized the current Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) governance and expressed intentions to strengthen Taiwan’s economy, defense and foreign policy while avoiding conflicts with China.
“Under the rule of the DPP in the past seven years or so, internationally, they have led Taiwan towards the danger of war,” Gou said, according to the South China Morning Post. “Domestically, their policies are filled with mistakes and have been unable to resolve the problems of industrial development and improve people’s lives.”
For the past few weeks, Gou has been touring Taiwan for rallies. In his pre-campaign events, Gou highlighted his main goals to get the DPP out of office and avoid war with China.
“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, according to Reuters. “Taiwan must not become Ukraine and I will not let Taiwan become the next Ukraine.”
Poll results: According to a poll last week, the support for Lai Ching-te, the current vice-president and presidential nominee for the ruling DPP was at 43%, compared with 27% for Ko Wen-je, the former mayor of Taipei City and nominee for the Taiwan People’s party, and just 14% for the KMT’s Hou. Analysts suggest Gou’s candidacy might further divide the opposition vote, benefiting the DPP.
About Guo: Gou established the tech giant Foxconn in 1974 and opened its first plant in mainland China in 1988. The consumer electronics company is known for producing iPhones for Apple. It has a substantial workforce in China and is a major player in the tech manufacturing industry.
The net worth of Gou, who remains the largest shareholder of Foxconn, is estimated at nearly $7 billion. He stepped down as Foxconn’s chair in 2019 to participate in the KMT’s presidential primary, where he came in second.