Just days after announcing that he will be stepping down from his 45-year helm as Foxconn chief, Terry Gou has declared a bid to run for president of Taiwan. Gou, 68, will participate in the pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) primaries, drawing attention to Taiwan’s tension with the mainland where Foxconn has large business ties. Gou’s run would seek to unseat current Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has leaned toward Taiwanese independence from China.
“I am willing to participate in the primary election,” Gou said at the party headquarters in Taipei on Wednesday. “If I am not chosen, it means I didn’t work hard enough.”
Gou said he was encouraged by the Buddhist goddess Mazu, who is said to influence safety and fortune, during a temple visit to take part in the race.
“Today, Mazu told me I should be inspired by her to do good things for people who are suffering, to give young people hope, to support cross-strait peace,” he told reporters, noting that the goddess had initially appeared to him in a dream earlier this week. He also cites economic growth as a way to bring peace and stability to the nation at a time when young people are facing a difficult job market. As of last year, Taiwan has an unemployment rate of 12 percent for those between the ages of 20 to 24. (Taiwan’s minimum voting age is 20 for the presidential election.)
If nominated, Gou’s candidacy brings about several concerns. While he has successfully built Foxconn into one of the world’s largest suppliers for tech products from Apple, Google, and Amazon, he has also faced criticism regarding poor worker conditions and the uncertain future of Foxconn’s Wisconsin plant. Still, Gou is leaning into his business relationships with mainland China and the US as strengths as he prepares to take on more traditional political challengers, including former New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu and former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng.