By Yimou Lee
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Terry Gou, chairman of Apple supplier Foxconn, said on Wednesday he “will follow the instruction” of a sea goddess who has told him to run in Taiwan’s presidential election next year.
The billionaire was speaking as over 100 people crowded into Ci Hui temple in Banqiao, New Taipei City. The temple is devoted to the sea goddess Mazu, a popular figure in Taiwan that governs everything from safety to fortune.
Drums and gongs sounded as Gou, wearing a red jacket bearing the temple’s name and a cap with Taiwan’s flag, arrived amid chaotic scenes, and gave flowers and paper offerings to Mazu.
“I’m here today, back to where I was born, where I grew up, Gou said, adding that Mazu told him in his dreams two days ago to “come forward”.
“Mazu said to me, ‘you should … do good things for our suffering people, give hope to the youth, contribute to cross-strait peace’,” said Gou, Taiwan’s richest person with a net worth of $7.6 billion (£5.8 billion) according to Forbes.
He then pledged to “follow the instruction of Mazu.”
Gou added he had not yet formally declared his intention to run in the election, scheduled for January.
The opposition, China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party said Gou was due to visit its office on Wednesday and that Chairman Wu Den-yih would present him with a certificate to show he is an honorary party member.
Gou’s overtures come at a delicate time for cross-strait relations, while the ruling pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), struggling in opinion polls, smarts from a local election defeat at the end of last year.
China-Taiwan relations have deteriorated since President Tsai Ing-wen, of the DPP, assumed power in 2016. Tension escalated again on Monday, as Chinese bombers and warships conducted drills around the island, prompting Taiwan to scramble jets and ships to monitor Chinese forces.
The KMT, which ruled China before fleeing to Taiwan at the end of a civil war in 1949, said in February it could sign a peace treaty with Beijing if it won the election.
“Without peace there’s no security … Without the economy there’s no future. We need to think about the future for the youth,” Gou said at an event on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee, Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christopher Cushing)