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‘China Won’t Attack Taiwan If I Become President’: Taiwan’s Foxconn Founder Terry Gou

Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: April 28, 2023
Foxconn founder Terry Gou speaks during a press conference after an investors conference in the Tucheng district of New Taipei City on June 21, 2019. (Image: SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

During a news conference on April 27, Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Taiwan’s Foxconn and presidential hopeful, asserted that China does not seek conflict with Taiwan and would refrain from military action if he were elected — citing his commitment to not pursue independence for the island. 

The remarks come amid heightened tension between Taipei and Beijing, with China conducting frequent military drills near Taiwan to assert its claims of sovereignty over the self-ruling nation, which it claims as a rightful part of its territory. 

Formally known as the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan has preserved its de facto independence and self-governance; its government once ruled all of China before Communist rebels overtook the mainland in 1949. 


“According to my understanding, they don’t want war. But if you engage in independence, if there is independence, then there must be war. They think Taiwan is theirs,” Gou said during the event held at Taiwan’s Tunhai University in Taichung. 

Known as one of Taiwan’s most prolific and wealthiest figures, Gou resigned as the CEO of Foxconn — a major supplier for Apple with extensive operations in China — in 2019. Recently, he announced his candidacy for the presidential nomination of the Kuomintang (KMT), Taiwan’s opposition party that historically seeks strong relations with Beijing. 

This marks Gou’s second attempt at securing the nomination. Taiwan’s presidential election is scheduled to be held in January 2024. 

Complex issues

According to Gou, 72, China’s primary focus is on developing its economy, creating jobs for college graduates, and addressing the basic needs of its population, rather than attacking Taiwan. He believes that some Taiwanese politicians exploit the issue to stoke anti-China rhetoric in the hopes of gaining votes. 

“For them, striking Taiwan is not a priority. But Taiwanese politicians hope because of this the people can hate China and therefore they get elected,” said Gou, adding, “I won’t (declare) independence, you won’t attack me or fly around Taiwan,” he added, referring to military operations and provocative tactics of intimidation employed by China’s air force near Taiwan’s vicinity.

As a presidential candidate, Gou vows not to pursue independence for Taiwan, adding that he expects China to refrain from military action and provocative maneuvers against the island nation. 

Gou also emphasized his desire for peaceful and respectful dialogue between Taiwan and China, with both sides negotiating on an equal footing. He criticized the international media for portraying Taiwan as a dangerous and unstable country — suggesting that such portrayals are exaggerated and misleading, and seek to incite panic and chaos amongst Taiwanese citizens. 

“Do you feel it’s dangerous?” he asked the audience, while he underscored the importance of seeking “peace with respect,” in terms of diplomatic relations with Beijing. 

Looking ahead 

During the event, Gou repeatedly expressed his desire for “peaceful relations” between Taiwan and China, advocating for respectful dialogue and negotiations on equal terms; he suggested a commitment to “promoting stability and cooperation in the region,” rather than perpetuating tensions and conflict.

The Chinese government has viewed any support or recognition of Taiwan as a direct challenge to its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and has long threatened to use military force to retake the self-ruling island, if necessary. In recent years, Beijing has also increased its military activities around the island, and stepped up efforts to further isolate Taiwan diplomatically. 

Current Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is ineligible to run for a third term due to constitutional limits in what is expected to be a highly contested election. 

With his extensive business background and close ties to China, Gou’s bid for the opposition party’s nomination has drawn significant attention. However, his statements on cross-strait relations and other issues have also faced criticism and scrutiny.

Reuters contributed to this report.