Taiwan’s richest man says he’ll run for president because sea goddess told him to do so

Alexandra Ma

• Foxconn founder and CEO Terry Gou announced his bid for the Taiwanese presidency on Wednesday.

• He said he was running in the 2020 election because a sea goddess named Mazu told him to "step up" for the people of Taiwan.

• The Taiwanese presidential elections come as the island's relationship with Beijing becomes increasingly fraught. Taiwan considers itself independent, while China considers it part of its territory.

• Critics say a Gou presidency could jeopardize Taiwan's calls for independence because Gou is close to China.

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The billionaire founder and CEO of Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics supplier, is running for his country's presidency because he said a sea goddess told him to do so.

68-year-old Terry Gou announced on Wednesday he will take part in the Kuomintang party's upcoming primary elections. If he advances in the primaries, he will take part in the self-governing island's 2020 presidential race.

Gou said he was encouraged to run under the instruction and blessing of Mazu (or Matsu), a popular Taoist and Buddhist figure who is regarded as the patron of the seas.

"I tell you, I am like a godson of Mazu, she thinks of me like a godson," Gou told supporters at a temple in Taipei on Wednesday.

He added that she told him: "Now you have to step up and make even more efforts for all the Mazu temples and all people of Taiwan."

"I will definitely respect and follow Mazu's will," he said.

Foxconn is currently the world's biggest contract manufacturer for consumer electronics, and is a key supplier for Apple iPhones. Gou has a net worth of $7.6 billion and is the richest person in Taiwan, according to Forbes.

Taiwan's presidential elections come as the island's tensions with Beijing continue to mount. Taiwan has considered itself independent for the past seven decades, while the central Chinese government considers the island part of its territory.

Beijing has increased its pressure on making Taiwan a subject of China since Tsai Ing-wen, a pro-independence politician, became president in 2016. Tsai's domestic popularity has floundered over the past few months.

China has waged a widespread international campaign to quash Taiwan's calls for independence. Dozens of countries, airlines, and businesses have distanced themselves from Taiwan in recent years.

Experts worry that a Gou presidency would jeopardize Taiwan's bid for independence.

Gou has spoken in favor of closer ties with China, where most of Foxconn's factories are located.

Yao Chia-wen, a senior adviser to Tsai, even told Reuters that Gou's candidacy "is problematic to Taiwan's national security."


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