Taipei’s national security chief has said a Chinese tax probe into Taiwan tech giant Foxconn is “political” as its billionaire founder Terry Gou is running for president of the democratically ruled island.
Gou, who gave up Foxconn’s management reins four years ago, launched his presidential bid in August as an independent candidate in Taiwan’s January polls.
The Chinese state-run Global Times reported last month that Foxconn – one of the world’s largest contract producers of electronics and a key supplier for Apple’s iPhones – was under a “normal and legitimate” investigation for tax and land issues by mainland authorities.
Chinese authorities have not confirmed the probe and Foxconn has said it will cooperate on “operations concerned” while urging “confidence” in the company.
Taiwan’s National Security Council head said on Monday there was a “political aspect” to the Foxconn probe as election analysts have predicted that Gou’s entry into the race could split the opposition vote.
“They [China] certainly don’t want Terry Gou to run,” Wellington Koo, whose department falls under President Tsai Ing-wen, told reporters.
“Based on our observations, China does not want Terry Gou to split votes [within the pro-Beijing camp],” he said.
When Gou entered the race, some critics alleged his relationship with Beijing was a cosy one given Foxconn’s numerous mainland factories, but he said he had “never been under the control of the [Chinese Communist Party]”.
Taiwan is claimed by Beijing, which dislikes the Democratic Progressive Party’s government under Tsai as she has said the island does not belong to China.