Mercurial billionaire Terry Go shakes up Taiwan’s presidential race

TAlthough half expectedIt was dramatic. On August 28, Terry Guo, founder of Foxconn, one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers that supplies Apple and others, told a packed auditorium that he would join the race to become the next president of Taiwan. Wearing his dark blue hat emblazoned with the Taiwanese flag and giving a military salute, the 72-year-old billionaire said he would run in the January elections as an independent. After failing for the second time this year to win the presidential ticket of the opposition nationalist party, known as the Kuomintang (KMT).Kuomintang), he dedicated his candidacy to making Taiwan and China trust each other. Mr. Zhou vowed to bring half a century of peace to the Taiwan Strait, saying, “I will never allow Taiwan to become the next Ukraine.”

Indeed, his entry may make it more difficult for a candidate friendly to China to win. There are already two in the race to lead Taiwan’s 24 million-strong democracy: KuomintangHu Yu-ae, mayor of New Taipei City and former policeman who advocates talks with Beijing; and Ko Wen Ji, the former mayor of Taipei, who is running for the Taiwan People’s Party. Koo, an eccentric activist who says he has Asperger’s syndrome, would rather talk about core domestic issues than China, but has in the past adopted a similarly tolerant stance. Kuomintangs. That leaves Taiwan’s vice president, Lai Ching-te, running for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.Public Prosecution), as the only candidate to take a hard line on China.

The fraught geopolitics have given urgency to this question. During the current state of Taiwan Public Prosecution And with President Tsai Ing-wen, Beijing’s leaders have increased military exercises near Taiwan and projected unification of it with China in increasingly belligerent terms — even as American officials have often vowed to defend the island from Chinese aggression. A Hu, Kuo, or Now Gu victory will not end tensions, but it will likely ease them by appeasing China. Fouz Lai, the soft-spoken former doctor who in 2017 infuriated officials in Beijing by calling himself a “Taiwan independence worker,” may have the opposite effect.

Even before Mr. Guo’s announcement, this seemed somewhat likely. According to a recent poll published in, an online magazine, Mr. Lai received the support of 39% of voters. Mr. Koo got 18% and Mr. Hu 16%. As a presumptive candidate, Mr. Guo would receive 12%.

He naturally points to his business acumen as the reason for the increased share. The son of Chinese immigrants who came to Taiwan with Kuomintang In 1949, Mr. Joe had a powerful rags-to-riches story. He started a company making plastic handles for televisions in the 1970s using money borrowed from his mother-in-law. Now Foxconn, which Zhou headed four years ago and in which he retains a large stake, has huge factories in China and employs more than a million people assembling iPhones and other devices. By applying the same magic to Taiwan’s economy, Gu vows to double the economic growth rate, which is expected to reach around 2 percent this year, and put Taiwan on track for the highest economic growth rate. gross domestic product per capita in Asia during two decades.

Critics say his interests will make Zhou vulnerable to pressure from Beijing. Beyond that, he insisted, if the Communist Party threatened to seize Foxconn’s assets, “I would say: Yes, please do it!” But beyond this bravado, his tactics are unclear.

He will need to collect 290,000 signatures by early November in order to have his name included on the presidential ballot. Liao Daqi of National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung doubts this is his intention: “I don’t think he wants to run until the end of the election.” She suspects that his main goal is to shock opposition candidates and push them to form an alliance against Public Prosecution which Mr. Gu criticized as an incompetent and reckless warmonger. After announcing his candidacy, he said: “My candidacy is to promote the integration of the opposition camp.” “We must take down Public Prosecution.

If the opposition unites, Lai may face serious trouble. However, there is no indication that this is likely to happen. Ko, who ranks second in most opinion polls, says he is committed to his candidacy. And the century Kuomintang He would be very reluctant to stand behind a candidate other than his own. In a statement, the party denounced entering the race atmosphere and threatened to punish anyone Kuomintang The member who supported it.■

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