A populist mayor who favours closer ties with Beijing was named yesterday as presidential candidate for Taiwan’s main opposition party as it looks to unseat President Tsai Ing-wen in upcoming elections.
Han Kuo-yu won the primary for the Kuomintang (KMT), comfortably seeing off a challenge from Taiwan’s richest man, billionaire Foxconn founder Terry Gou.
His victory sets up an unpredictable clash as Taiwan goes to the polls in January in a contest that will be dominated by relations with China.
Han, 62, has enjoyed a stunning rise in the last two years, journeying from relative obscurity to become his party’s presidential candidate in a phenomenon that has been dubbed the “Han tide”.
Some have likened him to US President Donald Trump and other populist leaders who hail from outside establishment circles and command a fervent voter base buoyed by lofty promises of resurrecting their fortunes.
Han won 45 percent of votes cast in the KMT’s primary -- which polls members of the public by telephone -- compared with Gou’s 28 percent, a setback for a man who made his fortune assembling iPhones and other key electronic devices in Chinese mainland factories.