Terry Gou, Taiwan’s richest person whose contract manufacturing giant Foxconn makes almost all the iPhones and other hit products for Apple and other leading tech brands, has said the defense of the self-ruled island must go high-tech.
Gou, with a net worth of US$10.5 billion according to Forbes, has also announced his ambition to cross over from the business sector into politics.
He will contend in the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party’s primary, and if he succeeds, he will face off with incumbent leader Tsai Ing-wen and the Democratic Progressive Party in the island’s presidential race next year.
Gou announced last month that he was instructed in a dream by the sea goddess Mazu to run in the 2020 election. He told reporters on Sunday that Taiwan should spend its defense money on high-tech items such as unmanned aerial vehicles and other autonomous weapons to fend off any offensive from the mainland.
He also said his previous remark that “[Taiwan] should rely on peace for national defense” was misquoted by commentators and added that what he really meant was the defense budget should be spent on the “sharp edge of the knife,” such as developing indigenous high-tech weaponry.
Gou said he was not suggesting that the island should not buy weapons from the US to build up its defense, but rather some money should have been spent more wisely to make the most difference. This included procuring uncrewed weapons and other advanced equipment. He said he had a lot of experience in this regard running his business empire to trial artificial intelligence and other new technologies, according to the Taipei Times.
The Tsai administration is in a process of buying more than 100 F-16V fighter jets and a number of assault tanks from the US, and if the Pentagon, US State Department and Congress give the go-head, the multibillion-dollar transaction could be the largest arms sales deal in almost three decades.
The KMT and other aspirants for the party’s primary, however, have opposed the deal.
Foxconn under Gou has been making inroads into commercializing cutting-edge technologies, including launching a new subsidiary to design and mass produce robots and drones for corporate and government clients.
Still, there have been reports that the Taiwanese army decided against buying products or solutions from Foxconn and its sister company Hon Hai Precision due to national security concerns including Gou’s close ties with China and that most products from the two companies were made on the mainland.
Gou maintains amicable ties with Beijing and has met Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao on many occasions. Foxconn runs massive assembly plants in Shenzhen, Zhengzhou, Taiyuan and elsewhere across China, employing more than one million workers as the largest employer, taxpayer and exporter in many of these cities.
Meanwhile, Gou also said there should be neither provocation nor fear of China, and that “Chinese people should not attack Chinese people.”