TAIPEI, Taiwan — Terry Gou, the head of the world’s largest electronics supplier, Foxconn, said Wednesday he plans to run for president of Taiwan, bringing his pro-business and pro-China policies to what is expected to be a crowded field for next year’s election.
Gou announced he would refuse to be drafted as an independent but would put himself up as a hopeful in the opposition Nationalist Party primary.
“If I win the primary election, then I will represent the Nationalist Party in running for the presidential election in 2020,” Gou told reporters.
“If I am not chosen, it means I didn’t work hard enough,” Gou said, pledging that he would “put my all efforts” into supporting whatever candidate is chosen by the party.
The Nationalists favor closer ties with Beijing, a policy that accords with Gou’s massive business interests in China, where Foxconn produces products for Apple, Google and Amazon. Foxconn has also said it will build a major manufacturing facility in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.
Any candidate is expected to face a slate of competitors in the 2020 polls, in which President Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party says she will seek a second four-year term.
China despises Tsai for refusing to endorse its claim to Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory, to be annexed by force if deemed necessary, and has cut all ties with her government while seeking to isolate it diplomatically. Recent months have seen China step up military drills around Taiwan in what is seen as an effort to intimidate the island’s 23 million people into backing pro-China parties.
Gou, the 68-year-old son of a police officer who moved to Taiwan after the Communist takeover of the mainland in 1949, began his career in plastics before branching out into electronics and later mobile phones. Gou also gives his age as 69 in keeping with Chinese tradition, which designates a child as one year old at the time of birth.
Foxconn operates factories in China employing hundreds of thousands of workers. While those facilities provide living and dining facilities, the company has come under criticism for long working hours and sometimes harsh conditions.
Gou this week said he was planning to step away from day-to-day operations at Foxconn, but would continue to guide the company’s “major direction” while working on a book about his management philosophy and bringing along a new generation of leaders.
Foxconn announced in 2017, to much fanfare, that it planned to invest $10 billion in Wisconsin and hire 13,000 people to build an LCD factory that could make screens for televisions and a variety of other devices.
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