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TAIPEI, Oct 25 (Reuters) – After mastering iPhone-making, Taiwan’s Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of major Apple supplier Foxconn, wanted to turn his entrepreneurial skills elsewhere – to become the island’s next president.
But three months before the election, Gou, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes at $6.7 billion, has entered the fray.
He last appeared at a campaign event on Sunday night, the day after a Chinese newspaper said authorities had launched a tax investigation into Foxconn’s operations in China, even though it became the world’s largest contract manufacturer four years ago. Had withdrawn from running.
He canceled Monday’s event without any explanation and made no public arrangements for Tuesday or Wednesday, which was unusual given the previous frequency of his rallies.
The tax investigation was first reported by the state-backed, staunchly nationalist Chinese newspaper Global Times, but the English version of the story suggested that China was actually unhappy that Gou was running for president as an independent. He announced this decision as he was contesting the elections. august.
This was because, the newspaper said, Gou would split the opposition vote and “end up favoring separatist” Taiwan Vice President Lai Ching-te, making his victory more certain.
China claims Taiwan and believes Lai, who leads opinion polls, is a separatist bent on formally declaring independence. Lai says he will maintain the status quo and that only the people of Taiwan can decide their future.
Since the Global Times report surfaced, Gou’s team has refused to comment, referring questions to Foxconn itself.
Gou, 72, has continued to post on his Facebook account but has not mentioned the investigation.
Late Tuesday, Gou posted about late Apple founder Steve Jobs, whom he called his idol, and how he “cherished” their relationship despite his often difficult requests when it came to building the iPhone.
“If I had thought about quitting because Steve Jobs was too picky and the tasks given by Apple were too difficult, and I had given up on completing Apple’s orders, maybe I would have been able to participate in Apple’s innovation in the future. A huge opportunity would have been missed,” he wrote.
“Think big, but don’t overlook the details – this is the personality trait I’ve seen in Jobs. This is the trait I’ve come to expect in myself and encourage in every colleague around me in recent years Am.”
Foxconn said in a statement on Sunday that legal compliance was a “fundamental principle” of its operations, and that it would “actively cooperate with relevant units on related actions and operations”.
‘CEO of Taiwan’
Billing himself as “Taiwan’s CEO”, Gou has said he wants to unify the fragmented opposition amid rising tensions with China, which he blames on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) hostility towards Beijing. Consider responsible.
The DPP-led government has repeatedly offered talks with Beijing but has been rejected and has blamed China for the tensions.
But Gou suffered defeat in the elections and the two main opposition parties, the Kuomintang and the Taiwan People’s Party, have been talking to each other about a possible joint ticket, although these talks have not been successful.
Gau was not born rich. After graduating from university, he worked in a number of factory jobs as Taiwan began to use its cheap labor force to produce consumer goods for the rich Western world in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Had done it.
He founded Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., better known as Foxconn, in 1974 with 11 elderly employees and a $7,500 loan from his mother. Before landing a bigger deal in 1980 making joystick connectors for Atari games consoles, he first made cheap plastic parts for black-and-white television sets for a Chicago TV manufacturer.
In 2000, after making a variety of parts for companies such as American personal computer vendor Dell, Foxconn won an order to build Apple’s redesigned iMacs.
Foxconn eventually became one of the world’s largest private sector employers, with at times more than a million employees assembling devices for global brands such as Sony Corp, Nintendo Co Ltd and Microsoft Corp.
After stepping down as chairman in 2019, Gou remains an admired figure at Foxconn, respectfully referred to as “the Founder.”
His ties extend to Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom he met in Beijing in 2014 and described him as a great leader in 2017, Taiwan media reported.
Gou’s parents were born in China and belonged to the generation that fled to Taiwan after the Communist victory in China’s civil war in 1949, a year before Gou was born on the island.
In an interview with the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily in 2018 to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s landmark economic reform, Gou said he was happy to see the changes.
Earlier this year, Gou vowed to open dialogue with China if elected president on the grounds that both sides belong to the same China, but each can understand what that means.
Yet, when he announced his run in August, when asked whether his stake in Foxconn meant China could tell him what to do if he became president, he took a firm tone.
“I have never been under the control of the People’s Republic of China,” he said. “I do not follow their instructions.”
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sonali Paul)