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Taiwan election: Foxconn founder Terry Gou picks Netflix actress as running mate

Foxconn founder Terry Gou (L) and running mate Tammy Lai (R) wave during a press conference
Terry Gou announced Tammy Lai as his running mate

Taiwan billionaire Terry Gou has chosen an actress whose Netflix drama sparked a MeToo movement as his running mate in January's presidential election.

Tammy Lai, 60, is a veteran in show business but her candidacy has surprised many, given her lack of political experience.

Mr Guo, the founder of iPhone maker Foxconn, is running as an independent.

Taiwan will vote for a new president in the shadow of an increasingly assertive China.

The self-governed island has been a democracy since 1996. Although Chinese claims over it are not new, this election will be the first since Beijing has made it ever clearer that it would not rule out the use of force to take the island.

Mr Guo described Ms Lai "as an outstanding, all-round writer and spiritual mentor" while announcing her as his running mate on Thursday.

"We have no political baggage, and we are deeply concerned about the needs of the people," he added.

Ms Lai said she knew little about politics but "after meeting Mr Gou a few times, I find him to be someone I can cooperate with because he's very interesting".

Ms Lai played a presidential candidate - a character seemingly thought to have been inspired by President Tsai Ing-wen - in the Netflix show Wave Makers. The series sparked a MeToo movement in Taiwan earlier this year, setting of allegations that rocked several industries.

Politicians, activists, celebrities and others were accused of sexual harassment and even assault. As public reckonings and apologies followed, Ms Tsai herself apologised and promised reform.

But Mr Gou's unconventional VP pick might not affect the results of the January election, says Dennis Weng, an associate professor at Sam Houston State University in the US.

"Tammy Lai had a great performance in Wave Makers, and most of the audience are young people. But young people do not support Terry Gou," he told BBC Chinese.

Mr Gou, who has pledged to bring Taiwan "back from the abyss of war with China", decided to run on an independent ticket after he failed to secure the nomination from the main opposition Kuomintang party (KMT).

Mr Guo and KMT's Hou Yu-ih are seen as pro-China, unlike the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which favours formal independence for the island.

Mr Guo is currently trailing the other candidates - the DPPs' William Lai, who is the current Taiwan VP, is polling first, followed by the Ko Wen-je of the Taiwan People's Party. Mr Ko, the former mayor of Taipei, is doing particularly well with younger voters.

Mr Gou has been appealing to voters with his business success and experience in working with China. He started Foxconn in 1974 and the company has become a main supplier for Apple.