Asia Minute: Taiwan’s Presidential Politics and China Business

May 7, 2019

Credit DrRandomFactor / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

Trade negotiations between China and the United States are a focus for global financial markets this week. But there’s another development involving China that also has implications for the United States.

The chairman of a Taiwanese technology giant says China should recognize the Taipei government as a separate country.

Terry Gou heads Foxconn, a leading supplier for Apple, and he’s running for president of Taiwan. He still needs to win the nomination of the main opposition party, the KMT — the general election isn’t until next year.

Meanwhile, incumbent president Tsai Ing Wen faces a challenge within her own party — the first time a sitting president of Taiwan has dealt with a primary contender. Her approval ratings have fallen below 30% in recent months — largely because her plans for economic recovery have not succeeded.

On Monday, Foxconn’s billionaire boss said he could be a “peacemaker” in a relationship involving Taiwan, Beijing and Washington. Gou just returned from a trip to the United States, where he met with President Trump to discuss a planned factory investment in Wisconsin.

But it’s Foxconn’s investments in mainland China that have raised concerns among some political opponents. Most of the company’s factories are in China, and critics say that could put his corporate interests in conflict with those of the Taipei government.

It’s an accusation he denies, but with the election months away. There’s still a lot of time for further political debate.