Foxconn founder Terry Gou is rich and renowned. As Taiwan’s effervescent billionaire, the 72-year-old Gou is causing tremors in the nation’s presidential polls with his sudden declaration that he is running for presidency. With Mr Gou’s entry, the number of pro-China candidates has increased. Taiwanese are asking today two questions: Can Mr Gou win the presidential elections? If he wins, can he fix Taiwan’s mangled ties with China?

Offering Enough Drama

Most Taiwanese politicos are responding to these questions in the negative. Ever since Mr Gou declared on August 28th that he is entering the presidential poll fray, pollsters have been working overtime in Taiwan. Their arithmetic tells that a Taiwanese presidential poll with too many pro-China candidates is good news for the incumbent Democratic Progressive Party, and not for Taiwan or Mr Gou. Mr Gou’s chances of winning the election are thus. He is sure to end up splitting the opposition votes. China must be chuckling at this sweet development.

Not that Mr Gou’s entry into the presidential fray was unexpected. Yet, his declared entry is offering assorted election-watchers in Taiwan enough drama. As Mr Gou is the founder of one of the world’s largest iPhone contract-manufacturers, he is expected to serve the Taiwanese a nice cocktail of business and politics. As far as politics is concerned, his ability stops with this concoction. He is sure to get his name emblazoned in Taiwan’s presidential poll records as someone who emulated the political moves of the likes of Donald Trump. Sadly, the similarities will stop there.

Video Courtesy: YouTube/DW News

Despite Repeated Failures

However, nothing will stop Mr Gou from contesting the presidential election in Taiwan next January. As he plans to contest as an independent candidate, his chances of winning the election are slender. He has already flunked the opportunity, for a second time this year as he could not secure the presidential ticket from the Kuomintang Party. The Party, also known as the KMT or the Nationalist Party, is the principal opposition party in Taiwan.

Despite such repeated failures, Mr Gou seems not the one to give up so easily. Desperate to run for presidency, Mr Gou thinks he has an appealing USP to win the hearts of his voters. Mr Gou is promising to build a strong bridge of trust between Taiwan and China. He vows to build on this trust further as he would move along. He is declaring that he would usher in 50 years of peace in the Taiwan Strait. He is all set to assure his countrymen that he would not let Taiwan to become the next Ukraine.

Repairing is Easier Said than Done

Bad luck for Mr Gou, the USP he thinks he has may not be an USP at all. The Taiwanese know well that repairing their country’s strained ties China is easier said than done. More so in the current climate of militant posturing. Moreover, Mr Gou entering the presidential race in Taiwan is sure to frustrate the winning chances of many other candidates, including even those who are liked by the voters for their ability to repair the wounded Sino-Taiwanese ties.

This means Kuomintang mayor of the New Taipei City Hou Yu-ih and Taiwan People’s Party’s former mayor of Taipei City Ko Wenje will be pushed down to find their chances of winning frustrated by Mr Gou in the fray. Both Mr Hou and Mr Ko are strong votaries of good relations with China. They favour fixing Taiwan’s ties with China through continuous talks and negotiations. Mr Ko, who confesses to have Asperger syndrome, likes to focus more on key domestic issues, but is extremely accommodative towards Big Brother China in the mainland.

Why Mr Gou’s Chances are Bleak

That leaves on the field Lai Ching-te, vice president of Taiwan, as the only Democratic Progressive Party candidate who talks tough on China. Sino-Taiwanese relations are a major issue in Taiwan now. This is why the Taiwanese need a president who can fix the fraught relationship between the two countries at the earliest. Worsening bilateral relations, threatening military drills, frequent confrontations and gathering war clouds have all made the Sino-Taiwanese ties the hottest issue before Taiwan now.

As cross-strait tensions between the two countries have escalated to a new high under the incumbent president Tsai Ing-wen of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, worries and fears are palpable in Taiwan. China has been intensifying its military drills close to Taiwan and issuing threats over Taiwan’s unification with China. Considering Mr Hou, Mr Ko and Mr Gou are all for easing Sino-Taiwanese tensions, any of them may seem okay now. But, the Taiwanese are smart enough to know none of them can really reduce the tensions. That is why the trio’s chances of winning the Taiwanese presidential elections are bleak.,for%20increased%20cross%2Dstrait%20ties.

Declarations may Just be Intent

The trio’s loss will thus turn into Mr Lai’s gain. Mr Lai is a medical doctor who styles himself as a “pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence.” His popularity is such that Mr Gou may find it difficult to outdo him. Mr Lai is already head and shoulders above the Ho-Ko-Gou trio. Against this, Mr Gou is projecting himself as the second-generation Chinese immigrant and a powerful epitome of a classic rags-to-riches story of patience and perseverance.

Expectedly, Mr Gou is trying hard to influence the Taiwanese voters to believe in his managerial skills to allow him to double Taiwan’s economic growth rate. Mr Gou says he is sure he can make Taiwan’s economy grow at 2 per cent this year and make Taiwan’s GDP the highest in Asia in 20 years. These declarations may just be intent, most Taiwanese feel. His critics say interests are conflicting in his case. They emphasise on how his expansive business interests are sure to pull Mr Gou come under tremendous pressure from mainland China.

Mr Gou is Dead Against DPP

Undaunted by such trenchant criticism and unafraid of the possibility of the Chinese Communist Party grabbing his business, Mr Gou is taking a plunge into Taiwanese presidential politics. The Taiwanese may view Mr Gou’s decision to contest as plain brashness. They think Mr Gou’s declaration may remain just empty bravado and thus may not translate into any meaningful election tactics. His chances of gathering 290,000 signatures by early November too seem dim. Without these signatures, Mr Gou cannot get his name on the presidential ballot.

If Mr Gou does not really go the whole hog and stops halfway in the presidential race, why is he taking the pains of contesting in the first place? The popular belief is that he may not put his heart and soul into the contest and is not serious about a win. Taiwanese politicos are speculating that Mr Gou is contesting primarily to push the opposition candidates into forming an alliance against the incumbent DPP. Mr Gou is a diehard critic and hater of DPP, which he says is a war-mongering political grouping. This buttresses the theory of the Taiwanese politicos.

The Poliphoon’s Last Word

At the end of this madness, one thing remains clear. If the entire opposition unites, though not likely, Mr Lai could be in for a major trouble. Mr Ko says he stands committed to his candidacy, while KMT will not back anyone from outside. This is why the Party issued open threats to its flock warning those who dared to back Mr Gou would be inviting disciplinary action. These are loud signs that confirm the unlikelihood of Mr Gou winning. If he cannot win, how is he going to fix the Sino-Taiwanese ties? By all appearances, Mr Gou is chasing a mirage.