Billionaire drops out . . .
Terry Gou, founder of Foxconn Technology Group, officially announced his decision to quit the race to become Taiwan's next president. After losing the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) nomination, Gou was expected to run as an independent candidate. Some experts considered Gou and his rumoured running mate, independent Taipei City Mayor, Ko Wen-je, to be a formidable force against the official KMT candidate, Han Kuo-yu, and against incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Gou’s withdrawal from the race could consolidate the KMT’s support in the election, which will take place on January 11, 2020.
DPP defections . . .
Former Vice-President Annette Lu also announced her intention to run for president. Lu, who had been part of the DPP’s pro-independence camp, has been critical of the current government’s more moderate stance on independence, and is in the process of leaving the DPP. Her candidacy is supported by the Formosa Alliance, a smaller and more radical pro-independence party. Lu’s nomination is also considered to have alarmed the pro-independence camp, with Chen Chih-chung, son of ex-Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian, noting that the party “can’t afford a split of support from the voters now.”
Questions about election interference . . .
This shake-up of Taiwan’s presidential candidates comes right after the news that the Solomon Islands had decided to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan and to establish relations with China. In response, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the body responsible for communicating with Beijing, accused China of interfering with Taiwan’s election, suggesting that the diplomatic switch, prompted by Beijing, unfairly discredited President Tsai. The election will have huge implications for Taiwan’s future relationship with China, and for whether Taiwan’s democracy will thrive amid an increasingly powerful China.