Billionaire Terry Gou, the founder of major Apple supplier Foxconn, has announced that he will seek the presidential nomination for Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), for a second time. Gou had previously made a presidential bid in 2019 but dropped out after losing the race to win the nomination for the KMT, which traditionally favours closer ties with China. Speaking to reporters at a hotel next to Taiwan’s main international airport at Taoyuan on his return from a weeklong trip to the United States, Gou said that the only way to avoid war with China was to lessen Sino-US tensions and get Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) out of office.
Gou stated that “We must honestly tell young people that it is dangerous to vote for the DPP, which ‘exalts Taiwan independence and hates and opposes China’,” citing a wording Taiwan opposition parties typically use to describe the DPP’s politics. He added that “Peace is not taken for granted, and people need to make the correct choice.” The KMT is still in the process of choosing its candidate for the next presidential election, due in January 2024, with Hou Yu-ih, mayor of New Taipei City, broadly considered the current frontrunner.
The run-up to the election is taking place at a time of increased tensions between Taipei and Beijing as China stages regular military exercises near the island to assert its sovereignty claims. The KMT denies being pro-Beijing though it supports maintaining good relations with China. The DPP champions Taiwan’s separate identity from China, but the government it leads has repeatedly offered talks with China that have been rebuffed.
Gou said he had to stand up and “resolve the crisis” traditional politicians were not able to, adding he was sorry he left the KMT four years ago. “If I am nominated by the KMT, I will do my best to unite all the non-green camps and win the 2024 presidential election,” he added, referring to the DPP’s party colours. But if opinion polls showed current KMT frontrunner Hou led Gou and chose him instead, Gou said he would fully back Hou. “We can’t let the DPP continue to govern, we can’t let our children live in a forest of guns and the hail of bullets.”
The KMT said it would release a statement later. There was no immediate comment from the DPP to his announcement. The DPP has already chosen party chairman William Lai, who is also Taiwan’s vice president, as its 2024 candidate.
Tensions between Taiwan and China have been increasing in recent years, with China asserting its sovereignty claims over the island through military exercises and diplomatic pressure. The KMT has traditionally favoured closer ties with China, while the DPP champions Taiwan’s separate identity from China. The upcoming presidential election in 2024 will be an important one for Taiwan as it seeks to navigate its relationship with China while maintaining its own sovereignty and independence.