′Sea goddess′ tells Foxconn boss to run for Taiwan president | News | DW | 17.04.2019
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'Sea goddess' tells Foxconn boss to run for Taiwan president

Taiwan's richest man has announced he will try and run in Taiwan's presidential elections. He is doing this after the sea goddess Mazu appeared to him in a dream.

The boss of Foxconn, Terry Gou, announced on Wednesday he will likely run for the Taiwanese presidency after receiving encouragement from the goddess of water.

The party he intends to run for favors closer ties with Beijing, which would likely help with Gou's massive business interests in China.

Visit from a deity of the deep

  • The sea goddess Mazu supposedly visited Gou in a dream and told him to run for president.
  • She told him to "step forward ... to help the people" and "do good things for our suffering people, give hope to the youth, contribute to cross-strait peace"
  • He is, therefore, considering running in the island nation's presidential  elections early next year.
  • Earlier he said he will step back from frontline operations at Foxconn while remaining chairman of the firm.

Read more: Can Taiwan counter China's mounting pressure?

'Problematic' ties

A senior adviser to President Tsai Ing-wen told Reuters he thought Gou's business ties with China could compromise national security. "He's very pro-China and he represents the class of the wealthy people. Will that gain support from Taiwanese?" Yao Chia-wen, said.

Zhang Baohui, a regional security analyst at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University, said: "This is something entirely fresh for Taiwan politics — here is a candidate who sees everything through the pragmatic angle of a businessman rather than raw politics or ideology."

Read more: Tech supplier Foxconn under fire again over labor conditions

Who is Gou? The billionaire 69-year-old is is Taiwan's richest person, according to Forbes. He started a business in 1974 producing television parts, eventually turning it into the world's biggest contract electronics producer, best known for producing the iPhone. He supports the Beijing-friendly opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party.

View of the worlds tallest statue of Mazu, goddess of the sea, in Tianjin, China

The sea goddess Mazu is said to protect fishermen and sailors, and is invoked as the patron saint of all Southern Chinese and East Asian people.

Who is Mazu? The sea goddess, also known as Matsu, is worshiped in Chinese coastal regions, but is a particularly popular figure in Taiwan. It is believed that she governs everything from safety to fortune.

Taiwan election: If nominated, Gou will be running against incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, 62, of the Beijing-sceptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the January 11 polls. However, she faces an internal party challenge from pro-independence former premier William Lai. The DPP will announce its candidate later this month. The DPP has been struggling in opinion polls following defeats at local elections at the end of last year.

Read more: Taiwan condemns Chinese military drills as intimidation

Taiwan and China: China and Taiwan split in 1949 after Chinese nationalists fled to the island when the communists took power. The nationalists set up power on the island and since then, Taiwan has seen itself as an independent state while China sees it as part of its territory. It has never formally declared independence. Relations have deteriorated further since the independence-advocates DPP took power in 2016, with China running frequent military drills near the island. Since then, Taiwan has gradually lost its few international supporters in its fight against the One China policy. The KMT has pledged to sign a peace treaty with China.

Can Gou run? Before running in the primaries, Gou will need to follow the party's nomination procedure. He is scheduled to meet with KMT officials later Wednesday.

aw/rc (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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