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28 Aug, 2023 18:38

Billionaire vows to stop Taiwan from becoming ‘next Ukraine’

Foxconn founder Terry Gou has entered the Taiwanese presidential race, vowing to bring peace to the self-governing island
Billionaire vows to stop Taiwan from becoming ‘next Ukraine’

Foxconn billionaire Terry Gou, the founder of Apple’s largest supplier, has entered the Taiwanese presidential race to bring peace with China and prevent the self-governing island from becoming a geopolitical pawn in a bloody conflict with its larger neighbor.

“Taiwan must not become Ukraine, and I will not let Taiwan become the next Ukraine,” Gou said in a speech announcing his candidacy on Monday in Taipei. “I implore the Taiwanese people to give me four years. I promise that I will bring 50 years of peace to the Taiwan Strait.” He pledged to build a foundation of “mutual trust” with Beijing.

Gou, 72, became the fourth candidate to enter the race for Taiwan’s presidential election in January. He failed to secure the nomination of the main opposition party, Kuomintang (KMT), just as he did after stepping down as Foxconn’s chairman in 2019, but he decided to run this time around as an independent. If he’s unable to unify opposition forces, he risks splitting the vote, opening the door for a potentially easy victory by current Vice President William Lai, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate.

The entrepreneur has tried to position himself as the only candidate who can prevent war with China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has vowed to reunify with the breakaway province – by force if necessary. Tensions with Beijing have escalated since Tsai Ing-wen took office as president in 2016. Tsai has forged closer ties with Washington and angered Chinese leaders by hosting visits by US politicians, such as then-house speaker Nancy Pelosi last year.

“Under the rule of the DPP in the past seven years or so, internationally, they have led Taiwan towards the danger of war,” Gou said. “Domestically, their policies are filled with mistakes.” He vowed that the “era of entrepreneur’s rule” has begun, adding, “If we don’t pull back now, it will be too late to save Taiwan from falling.”

Gou has a fortune estimated by Forbes at $7.2 billion, and he remains the largest shareholder of Foxconn. The company derives about 70% of its revenue from its factories in China and has tried to diversify geographically by ramping up investment in other countries. 

Tsai has touted her government’s support for Ukraine and called the Russian military offensive against the former Soviet republic “a wakeup call for us all.”