By Yimou Lee
TAIPEI (Reuters) – The chairman of Apple supplier Foxconn said on Monday he wanted Beijing to recognise the existence of Taiwan, as he outlined his plans to be the peacemaker between China, the United States and the self-ruled island Beijing sees as its own.
Billionaire Terry Gou, who said last month he would run for president of Taiwan in 2020, met U.S. President Donald Trump last week to discuss the status of the Taiwan company’s planned investment in Wisconsin.
“I told Trump specifically that I’m here to be a peacemaker,” Gou told a news conference in the capital, Taipei, adding that he had met Trump in an effort to improve his private relationship and not as a campaigner.
But he told Trump of his desire to forge a mutually-beneficial peace and improved commercial links, he added.
“This ‘peace’ involves the United States, China and Taiwan, not just Taiwan and China,” he added. “The U.S is involved.”
The United States and China are in the middle of a bruising trade dispute, with Trump threatening on Sunday to raise U.S. tariffs on $200 billion (152 billion pounds) worth of Chinese goods this week and soon target hundreds of billions more.
Using Taiwan’s official name, Gou said, “We’d like to ask Beijing to recognise and acknowledge the existence of the Republic of China.”
Gou said he would like to have talks with Beijing on a “mutually equal basis” to boost economic development for both China and Taiwan.
Beijing regards the island as a breakaway province, part of “one China”, and has not renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.
The United States acknowledges that China takes the position that there is one China and that Taiwan is part of it. But it is also Taiwan’s biggest ally and arms supplier and is duty-bound by law to help the island defend itself.
Gou also hit back at critics whom he described as “trying to make me (out as) ‘red’ by saying that I will be held hostage,” over Foxconn’s investments in China.
The trade spat between China and the United States might end soon, Gou said, but the broader tensions between them could drag on longer.
The United States has also been pressing allies to limit the role of Chinese telecom equipment makers, such as Huawei Technologies, over concerns their gear could be used by Beijing for spying. Huawei says such concerns are baseless.
Foxconn has pledged to create 13,000 jobs and build a $10-billion campus in Wisconsin, but has not met early hiring targets and has said it has been reconsidering its plans.
Gou said the investment is intended to help the United States reshape its technology supply chain.
Last month, he told Reuters he planned to step down from the world’s largest contract manufacturer to make way for younger talent to move up its ranks.
A board meeting is to be held on Friday, Gou added, but declined to comment on questions over his succession plan.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Writing by Farah Master and Greg Torode; Editing by Nick Macfie and Clarence Fernandez)