TAIPEI, TAIWAN — Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of tech giant Foxconn, announced on Wednesday he is seeking the presidential nomination of Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang party to “avoid war” with China.
Taiwan will elect its next leader in January 2024 to succeed President Tsai Ing-wen, whose two terms in power have been marked by soaring tensions with Beijing.
Returning from a visit to the United States, Gou, 72, told reporters that “there is the risk that war may break out anytime” and that Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) must be voted out to “avoid war”.
Tsai will step down in May 2024 after serving the maximum two terms allowed. Vice President William Lai, 63, has said he will seek the DPP nomination.
“I have to tell young people honestly that voting for the DPP which upholds Taiwan’s independence, hates China and is anti-China is against your interests,” Gou said.
“We can’t take… (peace) for granted, it requires the people to make the right choice.”
His announcement came ahead of Tsai’s scheduled meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a stopover in Los Angeles on Wednesday following a visit to Central America.
The meeting will almost certainly enrage Beijing.
After a visit to Taipei last year by McCarthy’s predecessor Nancy Pelosi, China staged huge military drills around democratic Taiwan.
China claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory to be taken one day — by force if necessary.
On Tuesday, Beijing vowed to “firmly defend” its sovereignty ahead of Tsai’s visit to the United States, and warned McCarthy that he was “playing with fire”.
Gou ceded control of Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker and a key supplier for Apple’s iPhones, in 2019 when he last sought the KMT’s presidential nomination.
That bid ended with a loss in the party’s primaries.
The bulk of Gou’s investments is in mainland China, where he employs more than one million workers in massive factories, raising concerns over his perceived cosiness with Beijing’s leadership.