TAIPEI, Taiwan — The billionaire Terry Gou, whose firm is greatest recognized for manufacturing iPhones, introduced Wednesday he would run for Taiwan’s presidency, saying his bid had acquired a divine blessing — from a Chinese language sea goddess.
Mr. Gou’s entrance into the presidential race shakes up Taiwan’s political enjoying area and attracts into sharp focus the self-ruled island democracy’s strained relations with China, the place his client electronics big, Foxconn, has giant investments.
Earlier within the day, Mr. Gou donned a baseball cap and sun shades and visited a temple in Taipei devoted to a preferred Taoist and Buddhist goddess, Mazu, who’s believed to guard seafarers. Mr. Gou instructed reporters the deity had approached him in a dream, entreating him to run for president so as to enhance the financial system and relations with China.
“Mazu mentioned I have to deal with the youth,” he instructed reporters after burning incense. “I have to do the whole lot I can to assist those that are struggling.”
Mr. Gou just isn’t struggling.
He based Foxconn, formally referred to as Honhai Precision Trade Co., in 1974, and led its development into one of many world’s largest firms, with multiple million staff. Not like his rivals, he has no expertise in authorities, however his private wealth, estimated by Forbes to exceed $7 billion, can be an asset, each when it comes to status and financing his marketing campaign.
Taiwan’s sluggish development and tough job marketplace for younger folks and the working class are anticipated to be main points within the race.
But additionally figuring largely are ties between China and Taiwan, which have been strained since Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Get together, took workplace in 2016. Mr. Gou would search the nomination of the opposition social gathering, the China-friendly Kuomintang.
Mr. Gou has lengthy toyed with the concept of a presidential run, however Taiwanese information experiences say he grew to become severe about working within the upcoming election after a fellow businessman, Donald Trump, gained the American presidential election in 2016.
In 2017, Mr. Gou was feted by Mr. Trump on the White Home after his firm, Foxconn, introduced a multi-billion-dollar funding in Wisconsin. Mr. Trump praised his enterprise acumen, calling him “one of many nice businessmen of our time,” and their private relationship is prone to profit Mr. Gou’s marketing campaign.
Though wages have grown previously three years underneath Ms. Tsai’s administration, the financial system is predicted to be a significant component on this 12 months’s primaries and January’s basic election.
Austin Wang, an assistant professor of political science on the College of Nevada, Las Vegas, who research Taiwan, mentioned that Mr. Gou’s enterprise background will set him other than candidates in each the events.
“Clearly he has constructed a profitable enterprise,” Mr. Wang mentioned of Mr. Gou. “That is a bonus that not one of the different candidates have.”
Along with making a number of visits to the Trump White Home, Mr. Gou additionally has direct entry to the highest management in China, Taiwan’s largest buying and selling companion. Simply days after Mr. Trump lavished reward on him in Washington, Mr. Gou confirmed China’s premier, Li Keqiang, round a Foxconn manufacturing facility within the central Chinese language metropolis of Zhengzhou.
Provided that neither the USA nor China have official relations with Taiwan, entry to prime leaders in Washington and Beijing is one thing that not one of the different candidates within the Kuomintang main can boast about. Mr. Gou joins a main area that features Wang Jin-pyng, the previous president of Taiwan’s legislature, and Eric Chu, who misplaced to Ms. Tsai within the 2016 election.
Observers say Han Kuo-yu, the populist mayor of the southern port metropolis of Kaohsiung who has been on the middle of Taiwan’s political dialogue for the previous half a 12 months, can also run. Different potential Kuomintang candidates embrace the social gathering’s chairman. The social gathering’s main is in June.
Regardless who emerges because the Kuomintang candidate, the race guarantees to focus closely on Taiwan’s difficult relationship with China. China considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory and has stepped up strain on President Tsai’s administration by rising its army actions close to Taiwanese waters and airspace and poaching its diplomatic allies.
President Tsai is going through a main problem inside her social gathering from her former premier, William Lai, who’s an outspoken supporter of independence for Taiwan, in distinction to Ms. Tsai’s pragmatic method.
Mr. Guo’s speech on the temple Wednesday was delivered within the Taiwanese language, a nod to Taiwan’s distinctive id. But his option to cite Mazu, a deity hailing from throughout the Taiwan Strait within the Chinese language province of Fujian, additionally carried significance.
When Mazu spoke to him in his dream, he mentioned, she instructed him, “You could protect cross-strait peace.”