Populist Kaohsiung mayor emerges as formidable rival to Foxconn chief
TAIPEI — Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, who was once seen as a likely front-runner in Taiwan’s presidential election, is struggling to expand support as his sprawling business empire on the mainland raises concerns about his priorities.
Gou’s business experience was expected to become a great asset when he announced his bid in April. Gou founded Foxconn, formally Hon Hai Precision Industry, in 1974 and has turned it into a major Apple supplier that reported sales revenue of 5.29 trillion New Taiwan dollars ($171 billion) for 2018.
But Foxconn could actually prove a liability for Gou in the political arena. Among those eyeing the Kuomintang nomination, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu is now in the lead, with 35% support, according to a poll released Friday by broadcaster TVBS. Gou trails far behind at 20%. The party is expected to choose its official candidate as early as June based on public opinion, leaving Gou with just over a month to close the gap.
Taiwanese voters worry that Gou’s loyalties will be divided between the island and his company, which holds 74% of its fixed assets on the mainland and employs 800,000 to a million people there. Media leaning toward the Democratic Progressive Party, the independence-leaning force behind current President Tsai Ing-wen, have been highlighting potential conflicts of interest. [FULL STORY]