Foxconn founder Terry Gou to run for Taiwan's presidency

Billionaire claims being a political outsider means he can fix border, avert wars, make Taiwan great again … which sounds rather familiar

Terry Gou, who founded contract manufacturer to the stars Foxconn, has delivered on his previous promise to stand for election as president of Taiwan.

Gou launched his candidacy with a speech and a Facebook post.

The billionaire's pitch may sound familiar to followers of US politics in recent years. He has promised that if elected, he will:

  • Use his entrepreneurial experience to cut through political morasses that incumbent parties have proved they cannot address;
  • Upgrade Taiwan's industry to a new level;
  • In just four years, make Taiwan a more successful economy than Singapore;
  • Secure a peace deal with China that lasts 50 years.

Guo is felt to be more pro-China than many Taiwanese politicians – Foxconn's many investments in China are an eloquent reminder he knows how to work with senior mainland officials. However, some of Foxconn's plants have been criticized for providing deeply unpleasant working environments, with the mega-manufacturer sometimes caring little for complaints.

Presidential elections in Taiwan are first-past-the-post – meaning the candidate who wins the most votes gets the gig. Among the presidential powers is the ability to appoint the premier of Taiwan's equivalent of Cabinet, the Executive Yuan. The president has the power to dissolve the unicameral parliament, the Legislative Yuan, but can't control how the body votes.

Like a certain Florida man who ran for president after a lifetime sniping at politics – rather than participating in it or trying to understand its workings – Goi has previously teased a run at Taiwan's top job.

He's picked an interesting moment to run. The candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is already in a strong position, according to polls, and alternative candidates are short of competitive. Guo has called for candidates representing entities other than the DPP to unify – presumably behind him.

Because politicians love getting out of the way to let an outsider with no experience run the show.

Taiwan's presidential election will take place in January 2024. Before that date, Guo must secure 290,000 signatures to register as an independent candidate and build a coalition of supporters to counterbalance DPP support. Given that he built the world's pre-eminent contract manufacturer – which will soon build everything from semiconductors to electric vehicles – writing off Gou's ability to influence debate appears unwise. ®

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