Foxconn’s Gou hints at run for Taiwan presidency

Foxconn chairman and founder Terry Gou plan to step down from the world’s largest contract manufacturer. (Reuters)
Updated 16 April 2019
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Foxconn’s Gou hints at run for Taiwan presidency

  • Terry Gou declined to say which party he could represent in his potential presidential bid
  • Taiwan is gearing up for presidential elections in January at a time of heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait

TAIPEI: Foxconn’s chairman Terry Gou said on Tuesday he is considering whether to run for Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election, a day after reports said the tycoon planned to step down from the world’s largest contract manufacturer.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event to mark the 40th anniversary of Taiwan-US ties, Gou declined to say which party he could represent, at a time of heightened tensions between the self-ruled island and Beijing.
If it was the opposition, China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT), he would “go” with the standard procedures of the party, Gou said, adding he would make that decision “as soon as possible.”
“I didn’t sleep last night ... 2020 is key for Taiwan. The reason for the tense situation (with China) is because it’s a turning point for Taiwan’s direction for politics, economy, defense for the next 20 years,” Gou said.
“So, I asked myself the whole night ... I need to ask myself what I can do. What I can do for the youth? ... The next 20 years will decide their fate,” he said, his eyes welling up with tears at times.
The KMT said in a statement Gou had been a party member for more than 50 years and had given it 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 did not immediately respond to a media enquiry on whether Gou was eligible to participate in the party’s already highly competitive primary election.
Gou, Taiwan’s richest person with a net worth of $7.6 billion according to Forbes, told Reuters on Monday he planned to step down in the coming months to pave the way for younger talent to move up the company’s ranks.
The company later said Gou will remain chairman of Foxconn, though he plans to withdraw from daily operations.
Taiwan is gearing up for presidential elections in January at a time of heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait, with Chinese bombers and warships conducting drills around the self-ruled island on Monday.
A senior US official denounced the military maneuvers as “coercion” and a threat to stability in the region.
China claims Taiwan as its own and has vowed to bring the island, which it regards as a sacred territory, under Chinese control, by force if necessary.
The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.
“We need peace. We don’t need to buy too many weapons. Peace is the biggest weapon,” Gou said, adding that Taiwan only needs adequate self-defense.
“If we spend the money for weapons on economic development, on artificial intelligence, on investment in the United States, this would be the biggest assurance on peace.”
“Whose children are willing to sit in those fighter jets?”
A source with direct knowledge of the situation said Gou was likely to announce his decision on the presidential bid later on Tuesday at the earliest and was due to travel to Foxconn’s factory in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Wednesday.
Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party is expected to announce a presidential candidate in May, with contenders including President Tsai Ing-wen and her former premier, William Lai.
Asked by Reuters on Monday if he would quit as chairman, Gou said, at 69 years old, he was moving in that direction, though any decision needed to be discussed with Foxconn’s board.
“I don’t know where you got the information from. But I have to say, basically, I’m working toward that direction — to walk back to the second line, or retire,” Gou said.
He also signaled a major management reshuffle.
“In the board meeting in April-May we will give the new list of board members to the board,” Gou said without elaborating.
Founded in 1974, the Foxconn group is the world’s biggest contract manufacturer with T$5.2 trillion ($168.52 billion) in annual revenue. It assembles goods for a miscellany of global tech firms but relies on Apple for over half of annual revenue, analysts said.


US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

Updated 19 April 2019
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US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

  • A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend
  • The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group

KABUL: The US envoy for peace in Afghanistan expressed disappointment on Friday after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed some of the deep divisions hampering efforts to end the war.
A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend. The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.
“I’m disappointed Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, said on Twitter. “I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.”
The collapse of the meeting before it had even started, described as a “fiasco” by one senior Western official, laid bare the tensions that have hampered moves toward opening formal peace negotiations.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-born diplomat, has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives but the insurgents have so far refused to talk to the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.
The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the US-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.
President Ashraf Ghani’s office blamed Qatari authorities for the cancelation, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans.”
“This act is not acceptable for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Friday.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Qatar, which had been facilitating the meeting, said there was no disagreement about the agenda.
“Rather, there is insufficient agreement around participation and representation to enable the conference to be a success,” he tweeted.
Preparations had already been undermined by disagreements on the government side about who should attend, as well as by suspicions among rival politicians ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September.
The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party.” Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend.
The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.