Terry Gou urges Beijing to give Taiwan int’l space

Hon Hai Group Chairman Terry Gou is pictured in this file photo taken on April 30, during a press event in Taipei. (NOWnews)

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (CNA) — Hon Hai Group Chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) urged Beijing on May 2 to recognize the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and give it greater international space, while stressing that Taiwan is part of China.

“Taiwan is an inseparable part of China and belongs to the Chinese nation,” Gou told reporters on board his flight to Wisconsin from Washington, where he met U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House a day earlier.

He called on Beijing not to squeeze Taiwan on the world stage and allow it to take part in international activities, warning that a continued hard line would have consequences.

“Without international space, Taiwan’s leaders won’t be able to make overseas visits, which will ultimately result in destabilizing the foundation for peace between the two sides,” he said.

Gou’s comments on China, sounding more like those spoken by a politician than a businessman, came after he declared earlier in April his intention to run in the presidential primary of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).

Should he win the KMT’s nomination, he would challenge the candidate to be fielded by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan’s presidential election in January 2020.

Gou later was greeted by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, not far from where Hon Hai, known internationally as Foxconn Technology Group, has committed to investing US$10 billion to build a flat panel display factory.

The Hon Hai chief has promised to create 13,000 job opportunities with the project in Wisconsin in exchange for up to US$4 billion in state and local incentives.

Hon Hai reached the deal with former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and Evers, a Democrat, has been critical of the project and expressed his skepticism that Foxconn would meet its commitments.

Evers said two weeks ago that the idea that Foxconn would create 13,000 jobs was “difficult to imagine” and an “unrealistic expectation.” After Gou and Evers met for the first time for 30 minutes at the airport, however, the governor backpedaled from his previous view.

“The fact that I said that they may not have 13,000 (jobs), it could be less, it could be more, to me it doesn’t matter,” Evers was quoted as saying by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“I’m not doubting their word, I’m just saying that we want as much clarity as we can going forward, and we talked about what they’re doing right now as far as building,” Evers said.

The governor also said Thursday he was “never not supportive” of the Foxconn deal, despite calling it “lousy” during his run for governor and a “horrible deal” in November 2017.

Also on Thursday, White House Spokeswoman Sara Sanders confirmed in a statement that Gou met Trump on Wednesday.

“Mr. Gou is spending a lot of money in Wisconsin and soon will announce even more investment there,” Sanders said.

Trump met Gou for discussions on the Wisconsin project at the White House on Wednesday, with Trump promising to visit when production starts late next year, according to Gou.

By Flor Wang and Chiang Chin-yeh