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Politics

Taiwan presidential hopeful hits Foxconn boss Gou for China ties

Ex-Premier William Lai takes preemptive punch at possible opponent in 2020

Taiwan presidential hopeful William Lai speaks to Japanese media in Taipei on April 25. (Photo by Kensaku Ihara)

TAIPEI -- Foxconn chief Terry Gou's large footprint in mainland China precludes him from truly serving as the voice of the Taiwanese people, former Premier William Lai said Thursday in a jab at a potential presidential election rival.

Gou, chairman of the iPhone assembler, should explain how he can represent Taiwanese interests while running operations on the mainland, Lai told Japanese media in a group interview.

Lai quit as premier months ago after his ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took a beating in local elections. He now seeks the DPP's nomination for the January 2020 presidential race. Gou announced April 17 that he would seek to run for president under the banner of the China-friendly Kuomintang.

Taiwan-headquartered Foxconn, formally Hon Hai Precision Industry, has such a massive Chinese presence that Gou should explain his stance or risk having concerns among Taiwanese voters persist, Lai said.

But whether the two men will face off in January remains to be seen. Lai is waging an intense battle inside the DPP with incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking reelection.

Lai also called for stronger Japanese ties. Japan, which imports oil and other resources via the Taiwan Strait, has a shared destiny with Taiwan, he said. Unification with mainland China would pose risks to Tokyo as well, Lai said.

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