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Foxconn’s Gou says can run for Taiwan president, a step back from the daily business

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said Tuesday that he is considering to run for Taiwan 2020 presidential election, a day after Reuters reported that the tycoon planned to step down from the world’s largest contract manufacturer.

Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Foxconn, is greeted during an event that marks the 40 anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, Taipei, Taiwan, April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Speaking on the sidelines of an event on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Taiwan-US ties, Gou refused to say which party he would represent, at a time of increasing tensions between the self-governing island and Beijing.

If it is the opposition, the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), he would “go” with the standard procedures of the party, Gou said, adding that he would make that decision “as soon as possible”.

“I didn’t sleep last night … 2020 is the key for Taiwan. The reason for the tense situation (with China), because it is a turning point for Taiwan in the direction of politics, economy, defence for the next 20 years,” Gou said.

“So I asked me the whole night … I have to ask myself what I can do. What can I do for the youth? … The next 20 years will decide on their fate,” he said, his eyes welling up with tears at times.

The KMT said in a statement Gou had been a party for more than 50 years and had an interest-free loan of T$45 million ($1.5 million) in 2016 under the name of his mother, a move that signaled his loyalty to the party.

The KMT not immediately respond to a media inquiry about whether Gou are eligible to take part in the party is already very competitive primary election.

Gou, Taiwan’s richest person with a net worth of $7.6 billion according to Forbes, told Reuters on Monday he was planning to resign in the coming months to pave the way for the younger talent to move up the company ranks.

The company later said Gou continue president of Foxconn, but he is planning to withdraw from the daily operations.

Taiwan prepares for the presidential elections in January in a time of increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait, with Chinese aircraft and warships conducting exercises around the self-ruled island on Monday.

A Senior U.S. official denounced the military maneuvers as “compulsion” and a threat to the stability in the region.

“PEACE IS THE GREATEST WEAPON”

China claims Taiwan as its own, and has vowed to bring the island, which it regards as sacred territory, under Chinese control, with violence if necessary.

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The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan, but is bound by the law is to help provide the island with means to defend itself, and is the main source of arms.

“We need peace. We do not need to buy too many weapons. Peace is the greatest weapon,” Gou said, adding that Taiwan should only be sufficient self-defense.

“If we have the money for the weapons on the economic development, about artificial intelligence, on investments in the United States, this would be the greatest guarantee of peace.”

“Who the children are willing to sit in the jets?”

A source with direct knowledge of the situation said Gou was likely to share his decision on a presidential bid later on Tuesday in the earliest, and was due to travel to the Foxconn factory in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Wednesday.

Shares of Foxconn, which is formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd and has a market value of about $40 billion, closed 0.7 percent higher on Tuesday.

An official in Taiwan stock exchange told Reuters there were no requirements with respect to a business carried out for the island’s presidency.

Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive y is expected to announce a presidential candidate in May, with contenders including President Tsai Ing-wen and her former prime minister, William Lai.

FOXCONN MANAGEMENT RESHUFFLE

Asked by Reuters on Monday, when he would stop as president, Gou said, 69 years old, he was moving in that direction, but each decision had to be discussed with Foxconn, the board of directors.

“I don’t know where you got the information from. But I have to say, in short, I am working towards that direction – to walk back to the second line, or retire,” Gou said.

He is also signalled in a major management reshuffle.

“In the meeting of the council in April-May we give the new list of members of the council to the board of directors,” Gou said without elaborating.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Founded in 1974, Foxconn group is the world’s largest contract manufacturer with the T$5.2 trillion ($168.52 billion) in revenues on an annual basis. The compilation of the goods for an anthology of global tech companies, but relies on Apple Inc for more than half of the annual sales, analysts said.

($1 = 30.8410 Taiwan dollars)

Reporting by Yimou Lee; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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