Founder of iPhone Maker Foxconn to Visit US to Rev Up Taiwan Presidential Bid

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(Bloomberg) -- Terry Gou, the billionaire founder of Foxconn Technology Group, is embarking on a 12-day trip to the US, as the independent presidential hopeful seeks to convince voters of his ability to lead Taiwan and balance its business and security priorities.

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Gou, who ran an unsuccessful bid for Taiwan’s top job in 2019, is hoping to win the backing of the country’s main opposition party, the China-friendly Kuomintang, in a high-stakes election. Taiwanese voters are set to elect a new president next January.

The island has become the focal point of growing geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington, whose rivalry is putting increasing pressure on policymakers worldwide to choose between the world’s two biggest economies. China claims Taiwan as part of its own and still sees use of force as an option to take over the island, while the US is bound by law to provide Taiwan with weapons to defend itself.

The 72-year-old Gou, whose company assembles the bulk of Apple Inc.’s iPhones in China, is scheduled to meet policy experts, entrepreneurs and other key figures after he embarks Monday. He plans to formulate a strategy to promote collaboration between the US and Taiwan, as well as bolster Taiwan’s economic partnerships in the global community during the trip, Gou’s office said in a statement.

Gou handed over the day-to-day operations of Foxconn to new management in 2019, when he ran for president, though he remains a board member of Foxconn’s flagship unit Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. to this day.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is also expected to transit through the US this week, on her way to visit diplomatic allies in Central America, in a visit that risks straining relations between the Washington and Beijing further.

Gou said in February that he was waiting for the KMT to find a way for him to run in the party’s primaries or become its candidate. The party has since decided to nominate a candidate without a primary election, though it is still unclear whom the KMT will eventually anoint.

After the tour of the US, which will also include visits to the Brookings Institution and Harvard University, Gou plans a visit to Japan, his office said.

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