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Taiwan tycoon and presidential hopeful Gou gets tips from Trump

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Taiwan's wealthiest man and presidential hopeful Terry Gou met with Donald Trump at the White House this week, with the Foxconn chief saying the American president warned him that the job he is going for is "tough".

[TAIPEI] Taiwan's wealthiest man and presidential hopeful Terry Gou met with Donald Trump at the White House this week, with the Foxconn chief saying the American president warned him that the job he is going for is "tough".

The talks, which took place on Wednesday, however did not include any discussion of support for the Taiwanese tech mogul's campaign, the White House said.

Mr Gou made a surprise announcement last month that he plans to run for president in next January's elections - after declaring the sea goddess Matsu urged him to do so.

The 69-year-old tycoon is seeking the nomination of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) opposition party but his huge factories in the mainland have sparked concern over his cosiness with Beijing.

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A stream of Taiwanese politicians have beat a path to Washington in recent months, hoping to drum up support within the island's diaspora and among influential US officials.

But only Mr Gou has managed to secure a face-to-face with Mr Trump.

"If I am elected president of the Republic of China, I will be a peace maker and won't become a trouble maker... I will strengthen Taiwan and the US economically," Mr Gou told reporters in Washington after the meeting.

The White House confirmed that Mr Trump sat down with "brilliant, business leader Terry Gou".

"The president and Mr Gou did not discuss support for his campaign in Taiwan. He is just a great friend," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

Mr Gou boasted of his White House connections in a swipe at the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which is much more sceptical of Beijing.

"We have been given the highest courtesy, (an invite) to the Oval Office, tell me until now which DPP official has such a capability?" he said, later showing reporters a coaster and pen embossed with Mr Trump's signature.

Asked what Mr Trump had told him, Mr Gou said: "He replied that (being a president) it's a tough job."

Mr Gou made his billions through Foxconn, which assembles Apple and Huawei phones as well as parts and accessories for other major international brands.

The bulk of Mr Gou's investments are in China, employing more than one million workers in the country where cheap labour helped fuel his company's meteoric rise.

Foxconn has vowed to build a US$10 billion display screen factory in Wisconsin, creating 13,000 jobs, with Mr Trump and Mr Gou breaking ground together at a ceremony two years ago.

But the project has since been hit by uncertainty over how many jobs will really be created and the huge tax breaks offered to Foxconn.

The White House statement mentioned Foxconn's investment in Wisconsin and teased that Mr Gou "soon will announce even more investment there".

AFP