Foxconn Founder Terry Gou Withdraws From Taiwan President Race

By Reuters
November 24, 2023Asia & Pacific

Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of tech giant and major Apple supplier Foxconn, on Friday withdrew from the race to be Taiwan’s next president.

Mr. Gou announced his bid in August, saying he wanted to unite the opposition and ensure the island did not become “the next Ukraine,” blaming the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for taking Taiwan to the brink of war by antagonizing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which claims the island as its own territory.

Mr. Gou, who only got the go-ahead from the election commission last week after collecting enough valid signatures to run as an independent, said in a statement he was “withdrawing his body but not his spirit.”

“STOP, RESET, RESTART,” he added, using English.

He did not specify what he would do next in the presidential campaign or who he might back—Hou Yu-ih from Taiwan’s largest opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT), or former Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je from the much smaller Taiwan People’s Party (TPP).

“Must win! All right? Complete the change of power and change Taiwan,” Mr. Gou said.

Mr. Ko offered his thanks to Mr. Gou in a comment on Mr. Gou’s Facebook page.

“We will definitely win!” Mr. Ko added.

Despite a massive advertising campaign, which saw his face plastered across Taiwan, Mr. Gou consistently polled far behind his rivals.

Although Mr. Gou stepped down as Foxconn chief in 2019 and resigned as a board member in early September, he remained the company’s largest shareholder.

But Mr. Gou, one of Taiwan’s most high-profile business figures internationally, largely vanished from public view after a Chinese newspaper reported last month that China was investigating Foxconn over taxes and other issues.

The report, in the CCP mouthpiece Global Times, implied Beijing was unhappy Mr. Gou might split the opposition vote, potentially ensuring a victory for the DPP’s candidate Lai Ching-te, who is leading in the polls.

Foxconn declined to comment.

Foxconn Chairman Young Liu told an earnings call last week that the company has “prepared for all possible cases,” when asked about potential political risks to the company from Mr. Gou’s election bid.

Mr. Gou had tried to broker talks between the KMT and TPP to run together against the DPP, but those efforts imploded late Thursday after an angry showdown between leaders from the opposition parties in front of reporters and shown live on Taiwanese television channels at a conference room in a Taipei hotel.

Mr. Gou’s running mate, the actress Tammy Lai, who starred in a high-profile Netflix drama, had to give up her U.S. citizenship to stand with him.

She has no plans to regain her U.S. passport, Ms. Lai’ office said.

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