The Chinese government has reportedly kicked off a probe into Apple manufacturer Foxconn as the regulators investigate the Taiwan-based giant “over tax and land use”.

According to a report in state-run media the Global Times, Chinese tax authorities have conducted inspections on key enterprises of Foxconn (Hon Hai Technology Group) in Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces, among other places.

“The natural resources department has also conducted on-site investigations into the land use of key enterprises of Foxconn in Henan and Hubei provinces,” the report said late on Sunday, citing sources.

The probe into iPhone maker Foxconn came as its founder Terry Gou in August announced an independent bid for the Taiwan presidential election in January 2024. He has resigned from his seat on the board of Foxconn.

Analysts said that although Gou shows similar political stance with Kuomintang (KMT), the main opposition party in the island, “his act of running for the elections is likely to further divide the island’s opposition camp, and this will in the end favour secessionist ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate Lai Ching-te,” said the Global Times report.

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Foxconn is allegedly being investigated because Gou’s running for the elections, “but Chinese mainland experts said the investigation is normal and legitimate, as any company goes through tax inspections”.

A spokesperson from the Hon Hai Technology Group told the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corporation that compliance with the law and regulations is the fundamental principle for the group operating worldwide, and “it will actively cooperate with relevant departments in their inspections”.

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“Enterprises of Foxconn have the obligation to cooperate and jointly maintain market order, and should be ready to correct their mistakes if any violations are found,” Zhang Wensheng, deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, was quoted as saying.

Foxconn has achieved significant profits and expanded its presence in mainland China. Its subsidiary, Foxconn Industrial Internet Co Ltd, has been listed on the A-share market, contributing to its parent company, Hon Hai Technology Group, according to the report.

Gou, the 72-year-old tech billionaire, recently said that he will “make Taiwan overtake Singapore within 20 years” and have the highest GDP per capita in Asia.

Founded in 1974, Foxconn grew to become an international business empire, becoming the largest private employer and exporter in mainland China with a workforce of 1.2 million.