Gou stepped down as Foxconn chief in 2019 and made a presidential bid that year, but dropped out after he failed to win the nomination for the KMT, which traditionally favours close ties with China.
Speaking to reporters at a hotel next to Taiwan’s main international airport at Taoyuan on his return from a weeklong trip to the United States, Gou said the only way to avoid war with China was to reduce Sino-U.S. tensions and get Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) out of office.
“We must honestly tell young people that it is dangerous to vote for the DPP, which ‘exalts Taiwan independence and hates and opposes China’,” Gou said, citing a wording Taiwan opposition parties typically use to describe the DPP’s politics.
“Peace is not taken for granted, and people need to make the correct choice,” added Gou, who did not take questions.
He made his announcement the same day Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is due to meet U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles, a meeting China has threatened to respond to with unspecified retaliation.
The KMT in the process of choosing its candidate for the next presidential election, in January 2024, with Hou Yu-ih, mayor of New Taipei City, broadly considered the current favourite. The run up to the election is taking place at a time of increased tensions between Taipei and Beijing, as China stages regular military exercises near the island to assert its sovereignty claims.
The KMT denies being pro-Beijing, though it supports maintaining good relations with China. The DPP champions Taiwan’s separate identity from China, but the government it leads has repeatedly offered talks with China that have been rebuffed.
Gou said he had to stand up and “resolve the crisis” traditional politicians have been unable to, adding he was sorry he left the KMT four years ago.
“If I am nominated by the KMT, I will do my best to unite all the non-green camps and win the 2024 presidential election,” he added, referring to the DPP’s party colours.
But if opinion polls showed Hou led Gou and won the nomination, Gou said he would fully back Hou.
“We can’t let the DPP continue to govern, we can’t let our children live in a forest of guns and the hail of bullets,” he said.
The KMT said Gou’s comments on supporting whoever the candidate ended up being were “admirable”, adding he was an important member of their camp.
The party will do its best to unite everyone and “create a better future for Taiwan away from war”, it added in a statement.
The DPP had no immediate comment.
It has already chosen party chairman William Lai, who is also Taiwan’s vice president, as its 2024 candidate.