Asian Insider April 18: Foxconn billionaire Terry Gou's Taiwan presidential bid; new Japanese plane

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.

FOXCONN BILLIONAIRE TERRY GOU'S PRESIDENTIAL BID

iPhone assembler and billionaire Terry Gou has decided to contest Taiwan elections next year - supposedly, as he says, after being told by a sea goddess to do so. This has stirred interest afresh in Taiwanese affairs. It comes at a time of heightened tensions between China and Taiwan and mounting domestic pressure on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and President Tsai Ing-wen.

Why Terry Gou's entry matters: Taiwan's richest man has operations in China, the US and other countries, employing millions. And within Taiwan he is admired as an entrepreneur who can negotiate with both US and China. But there are questions being asked about whether this would have a bearing on politics and if it would create problems. One expert has said Gou's entry marks the start of one of the most unusual elections in Taiwan history.

What to watch out for: Gou's bid, requires approval in the Kuomintang (KMT) primaries. He will be up against heavyweights like former party chairman Chu Li-luan and others who have announced their intention to run for leadership.

Go deeper on Terry Gou:
Biggest iPhone assembler warns trade war may last a decade
Terry Gou's FII soars in China debut after 27.1b yuan IPO

Here's more on Taiwan:
Taiwan seeks trade deal with US
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen says island not intimidated by Chinese drills

KIM JONG UN TESTS NEW TACTICAL GUIDED WEAPON

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's tested a new tactical weapon, his first after the failed summit between him and US President Donald Trump. He's also said he doesn't want US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo involved in talks.

How dangerous is the new weapon?: It's not very clear. The news was relayed by the state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) which didn't describe the weapon but reports say it could be a 'short-range' weapon. KCNA added that the missile has a "peculiar mode of guiding flight" and "a powerful warhead" that would "increase (the country's) combat power."

The big picture: Although the test is of a 'tactical' weapon, it raises fresh concern about the North Korean leader's commitment to denuclearise and the next steps that countries might want to take, going forward. The test comes days after South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced he intends to call for a fourth summit with Pyongyang, to pursue peace talks.

Go deeper:

North Korea rejects US Secretary of State Pompeo from nuclear dialogue: State media

North Korea's Kim Jong Un gives US to year-end to become more flexible

Moon Jae-in trying to rescue US-North Korea talks

JAPANESE AIRLINER TO COMPETE WITH BOEING, AIRBUS

Here are some interesting details: The Mitsubishi Regional Jet can seat up to 88 people. It is the first airliner to be built in Japan, since the 1960s. It should be ready next year. Mitsubishi has received 407 orders but that's not enough to make the programmes profitable.

Also, Bloomberg says Mitsubishi Heavy is not the only Asian manufacturer betting that it can build aircraft cheaper and more efficiently. Commercial Aircraft of China, also known as Comac, has a new regional jet in service, while Korea Aerospace Industries is studying whether to develop a 100-passenger aircraft.

CHINA REFORMS STATE-OWNED INSTITUTIONS

Will Washington's efforts to get China to reform its state-owned enterprises make any impact? Read East Asia Editor Goh Sui Noi's article to find out what's behind the kid-gloves treatment for the state-owned firms and if it will change.

INDONESIA POLICE WARN AGAINST PROTESTS

Tensions seem to be building up in Jakarta after firebrand former general and President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo's main rival Prabowo Subianto rejected unofficial results that seems to ensure a second term for Jokowi. There'll be more soon.

Meanwhile, get an update here:

Jokowi calls on voters to unite while Prabowo digs in

Big rematch leaves neither candidate satisfied

Excitement and fun in Indonesia's democracy fiesta

THE AMERICAN WHO IS GIVING THAIS A HEADACHE

American bitcoin investor Chad Elwartowski says his Thai girlfriend Supranee Thepdet didn't quite enjoy living in the community that she was in. So he built a 'sea home' for her that's floating off the coast of Thailand.

What's wrong: The home could be outside Thai territorial limits and the couple are facing charges of threatening Thailand's independence. But there's a dispute. Officials say their home is located 12 nautical miles from shore but Elwartowski says it is 13 miles away and hence outside Thai territorial waters. If the couple is found guilty, the maximum sentence would be death penalty. Right now, officials are considering what to do next.

EXHIBITION ON POOP!

The Japanese are spending big time on innovation. But this is a bit of a surprise: They've opened the world's first exhibition of cute and colourful poop! People are queuing up - nearly 1,000 per day. This statement from the organiser is to be noted:'No real poop was used to create the pop art exhibit'. The four-month long exhibition runs until July.

IN OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

China invites Vatican to flower expo as ties warm further

Quite a few Asian countries figure in the list of the world's least miserable.

Kakapow! Rare world's fattest parrot has record breeding season

That's it from me. Hope you found some stories interesting in this edition and here's wishing you a good, enjoyable long weekend.

Shefali

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