Terry Gou, chairman of the electronics manufacturer Foxconn, announced on Wednesday his intention to run for the presidency of Taiwan, in a move that is likely to shake up the country’s political landscape ahead of next year’s elections.
Gou, who has a net worth of $7.6 billion as chairman, will participate in the primaries for the Kuomintang (KMT) party, known for its strong pro-China stance. His decision to run follows his announcement this week that he would step down at Foxconn to pave the way for a new generation of leaders.
During his announcement at the KMT’s headquarters in Taipei, Gou said that “peace, stability, economy, and the future” were his guiding values as a politician.
“If I’m elected, I will represent Kuomintang in the 2020 presidential election to compete,” he said. “If I’m not elected, it means I haven’t worked hard enough. I will then fully support the candidate selected from the party’s primary system.”
Gou also revealed he had been instructed by the sea goddess Mazu to run for the presidency. Mazu remains a popular deity in Taiwan with people believing that she influences one’s safety and fortune.
“Three days ago, Mazu came to me in a dream. Mazu doesn’t want Taiwanese society to be so difficult. Mazu told me to come out and do something,” he said. “I am Mazu’s godson. I want to do more for Taiwan’s people. I will definitely follow Mazu’s instructions.”
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Gou’s candidacy arrives as the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party underperforms in recent opinion polls amid a series of unpopular domestic reforms involving pension schemes and labor law.
A senior adviser to President Tsai Ing-wen told Reuters that his candidacy presents a risk to the country’s national security, as China continues to step up its military presence around the island, conducting more frequent large-scale military exercises in and around its territory.
“This is problematic to Taiwan’s national security,” the adviser, Yao Chia-wen, said.“He’s very pro-China and he represents the class of the wealthy people. Will that gain support from Taiwanese?”
Since Tsai was elected in 2016 on a platform of securing full independence from China, Beijing has launched its own campaign aimed at isolating the country from its diplomatic allies, mainly through demanding they adhere to the “One China Policy” in return for inward investment and financial support. The ‘One China Policy’ states that Taiwan remains part of the territory and that it should be viewed only as a breakaway province that will eventually come back under Beijing’s control.