Taiwan iPhone billionaire, Terry Gou wants to be president

Terry Gou, a 72-year-old billionaire and founder of iPhone manufacturer Foxconn, is the most recent candidate to enter the contest for the presidency of Taiwan.

Mr. Gou is a charismatic industrialist with a remarkable rags-to-riches story, large sums of money, and significant brand recognition.

Mr. Gou would have a strong chance if he were the only candidate running against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), according to observers in Taipei. But he's not.

Instead, his candidacy will divide the opposition vote three ways in the presidential election of January 2024.

When there are already two opposition candidates seeking to unseat the incumbent party in a winner-take-all presidential system, adding a third candidate is unlikely to make the task simpler.

The situation is a textbook example of the "law of holes," which states that if you are in a hole from which it is difficult to escape, the first step is to cease digging.

The opposition in Taiwan seems to be excavating its own electoral grave.

This is precisely what occurred on Monday when Mr. Guo announced his candidacy for an election with far-reaching ramifications beyond Taiwan.

The self-governing island will elect a new president despite mounting threats from Beijing and a militarization of the region.

Mr. Gou, like another charismatic businessman across the Pacific, initially attempted to become the candidate of Taiwan's primary right-of-center party, the Kuomintang (KMT). He failed, unlike in the United States.

Mr. Gou left the party in despair following the KMT's selection of another candidate. However, the KMT is not Mr. Gou's only concern.

The Taiwan People's Party (TPP) is another opposition party in Taiwan, and its leader is Ko Wen-je. Mr. Ko, the former mayor of Taipei, is presently in second place in the polls. He is performing especially well with younger Taiwanese electors.

Mr. Gou's primary selling factors extend beyond his wealth and professional success.

His expertise includes working in China. Foxconn, or Hon Hai industries, has become the world's largest electronics manufacturer by combining Taiwanese engineering expertise with competent Chinese labor.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Gou constructed enormous manufacturing campuses in southern China and hired tens of thousands of young Chinese to work there.

The model was so successful that he eventually persuaded Apple to outsource the majority of MacBook and iPhone production to Foxconn.

It made Foxconn the largest company in Taiwan and Mr. Gou one of its wealthiest businessmen.

Now, he asserts that he can use his investment and work experience in China to defend Taiwan's security. Terry Gou has stated that he desires to prevent Taiwan from "becoming another Ukraine." He stated in his announcement of candidacy that he would lead Taiwan "back from the abyss of conflict with China."

He is not the only one who views the Chinese threat as becoming increasingly dangerous. Beijing has significantly escalated its military operations around the island over the past year.

The People's Liberation Army released a highly produced propaganda video last week that depicted Chinese troops practicing for what appeared to be an invasion of Taiwan's coastlines.