Trump meets Taiwan’s Foxconn boss-turned-politician Terry Gou at White House

Teddy Ng
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Trump meets Taiwan’s Foxconn boss-turned-politician Terry Gou at White House

Foxconn billionaire chairman Terry Gou has met United States President Donald Trump, saying he would still seek US support for Taiwan should he become the self-ruled island’s president.

The fledgling politician has said he will run for the pro-Beijing Kuomintang opposition party in Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province, to be taken back by force, if necessary.

Gou said he told Trump in their meeting on Wednesday that he was running for Taiwan’s presidency, and Trump replied, “It’s a tough job”.

Gou told Trump that he would be a peacemaker, but not a troublemaker, should he be elected, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, which quoted him as saying: “If I am elected, I would be seeking to go to Washington.”

“If I could not make it, it would be because of Beijing,” he said, adding that he would tell Beijing to recognise the existence of the Republic of China – Taiwan’s official title – and allow Taiwan to survive.

In a statement issued on Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described Gou as a “great friend” of Trump’s, but said that the pair did not discuss endorsement for the Foxconn chairman’s campaign during their meeting.

Gou entered the White House wearing a hat decorated with the flags of Taiwan and the United States. He left with a coaster from Trump’s desk, signed by the US president.

Gou will visit Wisconsin on Friday, where Foxconn had earlier committed to building a US$10 billion display screen manufacturing facility, expected to employ about 13,000 people.

Praising the presidential hopeful as a “brilliant” business leader, Sanders said on Thursday that Gou was “spending a lot of money in Wisconsin and soon will announce even more investment there.”

Trump personally broke ground for the Wisconsin project nearly two years ago, calling it a “great day for American workers” but there has been uncertainty since then, with slow progress and a Foxconn announcement that it would reduce the size of display screens to be made there – meaning fewer job prospects.

Wisconsin governor Tony Evers said last month he doubted the number of jobs that would be created.

No details have been given on Gou’s itinerary in Wisconsin, but Evers said on Tuesday he had no plans to meet Gou during his US visit.

‘He’s not Taiwan’s Trump’: Beijing adviser writes off Gou in presidential race

Foxconn said in a statement on Tuesday that it “regularly engages with its stakeholders in state and federal government”. Foxconn also said details of such interactions would not be disclosed for privacy reasons.

Gou announced his decision to run for Taiwan’s presidency two weeks ago, challenging the incumbent Tsai Ing-wen.

On Tuesday, he said Taiwan could benefit from the technology race between China and the US.

He said the US was poised to move the manufacture of sensitive technology products out of mainland China, and Taiwan’s information and communication sector should be ready to take over some of that production. Taiwan also had a role to play in mainland China’s technological advancement, he said.

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