Hon Hai Precision Industry Co chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘) on Thursday urged Beijing to recognize the existence of the Republic of China (ROC) and give it greater international space.
“We 100% agree that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, but this refers to the Chinese nation,” Gou told reporters on board his flight to Wisconsin from Washington, where he met US President Donald Trump at the White House a day earlier.
However, Gou 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 last month declared his intention to run in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential primary.
Should he win the party’s nomination, he would challenge the candidate to be fielded by the Democratic Progressive Party in the presidential election in January next year.
Gou was later 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 invest US$10 billion to build a flat-panel display factory.
The Hon Hai chairman has promised to create 13,000 job opportunities with the project in Wisconsin in exchange for up to US$4 billion of state incentives.
Hon Hai reached the deal with former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and Evers has been critical of the project and expressed his skepticism that the company would meet its commitments.
Evers said two weeks ago that the idea that the company would create 13,000 jobs was “difficult to imagine” and an “unrealistic expectation.”
However, after Gou and Evers met for the first time at the airport, the governor backtracked 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 he was “never not supportive” of the deal, despite calling it “lousy” during his campaign for governor and a “horrible deal” in November 2017.
In Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that Gou met with the US president on Wednesday.
“Mr Gou is spending a lot of money in Wisconsin and soon will announce even more investment there,” Huckabee Sanders said.
Trump met Gou for discussions about the Wisconsin project at the White House on Wednesday, with Trump promising to visit when production starts late next year, Gou said.
This story has been updated since it was first published.
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