Foxconn chairman Terry Gou is not Taiwan's answer to Donald Trump and his campaign to become president of the self-ruled island will end in disaster, a senior adviser to China's Communist Party told the South China Morning Post.
Xie Maosong, an adjunct professor at the Central Party School, where mainland officials are trained, said in an interview on Friday that the tycoon's role in the leadership race was "essentially as a spoiler" as it would only benefit Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's incumbent leader.
Taiwan's richest man, with a net worth of US$7.6 billion, said on Wednesday that he would take part in the opposition Kuomintang's (KMT) primaries for the 2020 presidential race.
Since the announcement, Beijing has been relatively quiet on the subject, with most mainland media, officials and academics opting not to comment. Only Global Times, a nationalist tabloid owned by the party mouthpiece People's Daily, entered into the discussion, with an editorial titled, "Gou's road to the presidency will be tortuous".
Xie, however, had no such reservations, saying that even if Gou made it through to a face-off with Tsai, his chances of winning were slim as his support would be capped at about 30 per cent.
"Basically it's the traditional pan-blue support for the KMT," he said. "Beyond that, the only possible support Gou might get would be Taiwanese stock market investors. But that's very fragile. The shares maybe rising these days, but once the big players leave the market and the share price (related to Gou) drops, these supporters will dump him."
Xie said he was not surprised that Taiwan's majority ruling party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), had also been quiet since Gou's announcement.
"It doesn't mean they dare not attack him", he said. "It would be very easy for the DPP to crash Gou. They just have to throw him the question, 'Do you support one country two systems?' That would be enough."
As for Gou's business credentials, Xie said those too could weigh on his political ambitions.
"Gou needs to be totally detached from his business to fulfil the political role," he said. "But that is totally impossible. If he became the leader in Taiwan, he would have to declare his wealth, especially the money he makes in the mainland, and that would create lots of trouble for him.
"It is going to be a disaster," he said. "He can't be Taiwan's Trump. Politics in East Asia is different from America."
Xie said that as the boss of Foxconn - the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer with more than 800,000 employees - it was not surprising that Gou's network stretched to the very highest levels of business and politics in both China and the United States.
"American and mainland Chinese leaders have forged good relationships with him because he brings investment and jobs," he said.
But if he became Taiwanese president, all of that influence would be put in jeopardy, and the relationships he had built would "bind his hands and feet".
Xie said he also wondered about the United States' role in the tycoon's decision to run for the presidency.
"Gou has been hesitating since 2016, but after he spoke to James Moriarty and Robert Parker on April 15 (two days before announcing his plan to run), he changed his tone. That is intriguing," he said.
Moriarty is the current chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, while Parker chaired the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei in 1979 and 1980.
Meanwhile, KMT chairman Wu Den-yih said on Friday that he had invited Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu to take part in the presidential primaries.
Former New Taipei mayor Eric Chu, ex-president of Taiwan's Legislative Yuan Wang Jin-pyng and former Taipei county magistrate Chou Hsi-wei have already announced their plans to contest the poll.
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