TAIPEI: Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of tech giant Foxconn, on Friday withdrew from the race to be Taiwan’s next president, bringing a sense of relief to the major Apple supplier and iPhone manufacturer, sources said. 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 antagonising China, which claims the island as its own territory.
Gou, who only got the goahead 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 Tai wan’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,” Gou said. Despite a massive advertising campaign, which saw his face plastered across Taiwan, Gou consistently polled far behind his rivals.
Although Gou stepped down as Foxconn chief in 2019 and resigned as a board member in early September, he remained the company’s largest shareholder.
Goulargely 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 strongly nationalist Global Times, implied Beijing was unhappy Gou might split the opposition vote, potentially ensuring a victory for the DPP’s candidate Lai Ching-te, who is leading in the polls.Gou’s decision on Friday came as a relief for Foxconn’s senior management, which had assessed scenarios for potential contingency plans after news of the Chinese inquiry, two people close to Foxconn said.
“It’s a sigh of relief,” said one of the sources. “We were previously a little bit unsettled, but this basically puts an end to it,” the person said, referring to worries about an escalation of the investigation, which could further affect its operations in China. Foxconn declined to comment.