TAIPEI, Aug 28 (Reuters) – Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of major Apple Inc (AAPL.O) supplier Foxconn (2317.TW), said on Monday he will enter the race for Taiwan’s next president as an independent candidate Year 2024 boarding elections.
Gou resigned as Foxconn chief in 2019 and ran for the presidency that year, but dropped out after failing to win the nomination for Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang KMT, which traditionally advocates close ties with China .
He ran a second time for the KMT’s candidacy for the presidential election in January this year, but the party chose Hou Yu-ih, mayor of New Taipei City, instead.
Gou has spent the past few weeks touring Taiwan and holding campaign-style rallies, fueling speculation that he plans to run as an independent.
“Under the rule of the Democratic Progressive Party, they have led Taiwan into the danger of war internationally for the past seven years. Domestically, their policies are full of flaws,” Gou said, adding that “the era of corporate rule” has begun.
“Give me four years and I promise that I will bring 50 years of peace across the Taiwan Strait and lay the deepest foundation of mutual trust across the straits,” he said in an appeal to Taiwanese voters.
“Taiwan must not become Ukraine and I will not allow Taiwan to become the next Ukraine.”
Gou’s main theme in his pre-election events was that the only way to avoid war with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, is to oust the DPP.
According to election regulations, Gou must collect nearly 300,000 voter signatures by November 2 to be eligible as an independent candidate. The Central Election Commission will examine the signatures and announce the results by November 14.
Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is the favorite to win the election due to his top position in the polls.
Former Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je of the tiny Taiwan People’s Party is generally second in the polls, with Hou a distant third.
In a call for “unity” on Monday, Gou urged Ko and Hou to sit down with him and discuss plans to join forces to win the election against the DPP.
The KMT expressed “extreme regret” over Gou’s bid and urged Gou to support the party’s candidate, Hou.
China has a particular dislike for Lai because he has previously said he is a “worker” for Taiwan independence, a red line for Beijing.
The DPP advocates for a separate Taiwan identity from China, but the government it has led has repeatedly offered talks with China, which have been rejected.
The primaries come at a time of rising tensions between Taipei and Beijing as China regularly holds military exercises near the island to assert its claims to sovereignty.
When asked about the conflict of interest issue with Gou as a major shareholder in Foxconn, which invests heavily in China, Gou said he was willing to “sacrifice” his personal wealth in China in the event of a Chinese attack.
“I was never under the control of the People’s Republic of China,” he said. “I’m not following your orders.”
Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Edited by Michael Perry
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