By Chien-Hua Wan and Adrian Kennedy
Tech billionaire Terry Gou denied Beijing could pressure him through his extensive operations in the country, which include much of Apple Inc.’s supply chain — in comments that came as he said he’d run in Taiwan’s next presidential election.
If China were to confiscate assets of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., it would hurt the interests of major global pension funds, and “no foreign investor will dare to invest,” he said at the launch of his campaign in Taipei. He also name-checked key customers including Apple, Tesla Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Nvidia Corp., saying any halt to production due to political pressure would disrupt supply chains, something China would need to explain to the world.
“I will not bow to China’s threats,” he said, adding he has no “personal” assets in China and that he doesn’t take instructions from Beijing. He also described China’s economy as being in a “terrible” condition.
Foxconn Technology Group, the company Gou founded, said in a statement after his remarks that it has more than 800,000 shareholders and is jointly owned by investors at home and abroad.
“As the founder, Gou already handed over the baton four years ago and no longer participates in the daily management of the company,” it said. “It can be said that it is a very good example of succession for a global company, and the company in the future will build on the foundation established by the founder to bring the business to the next level.”
Hon Hai’s shares were little changed on Monday in Taipei. They’re up 8.1 this year.
In seeking the presidency, Gou has argued he can improve fractious relations between Taipei and Beijing, and deliver “50 years” of peace. His group’s extensive operations in China have raised concern that Beijing could pressure him through his businesses.
Foxconn is China’s largest private employer. Its Hon Hai Precision unit has a market value of $47 billion.
Gou is the fourth entrant into Taiwan’s presidential race, with elections due in January. He’ll face competition for votes with Hou Yu-ih of the opposition Kuomintang, which also champions better ties with Beijing.
Vice President Lai Ching-te of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party has been leading opinion polls, followed by Ko Wen-jeh of the Taiwan People’s Party.