Stephen A. Schwarzman, founder of financial services giant Blackstone, has announced a $100 million (¥600 million) personal gift to build and endow an elite scholarship program in China A simultaneous fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $200 million (¥1.2 billion) will make the program the largest charitable effort in China’s history with funds coming largely from outside the country. The “Schwarzman Scholars” program will be housed at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities, dedicated to academic excellence and integrity, and the interaction between Chinese and Western cultures.
Schwarzman Scholars will support 200 students annually for a one-year Master’s program at Tsinghua University under the direction of Dean David Daokui Li, a prominent Chinese economist and former member of China’s currency board. Students will hail predominantly from the U.S., but also from Europe, South Korea, Japan, India and other areas of the globe. Students will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures by heads of state, traveling throughout the country, and developing a true understanding of China.
The first class of students is slated for 2016, upon the completion of Schwarzman College, a residential building designed specifically for the program. The admissions season will open in 2015.
Schwarzman claims to have been inspired by the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship program created in 1902 by British statesman Cecil J. Rhodes, “When Cecil J. Rhodes created the Rhodes Scholarship program in 1902 to promote international understanding, Europe was at the center of gravity for the world’s economy, and the United States, the British Empire and Germany were the world’s most influential global players. While the 20th century was defined by U.S. ties to Europe, there is no question that the nature of China’s international relationships will play at least as important a role in this century.”
He continued, “China’s economy is growing at three times the rate of the West, and if that growth continues, China will become the largest economy in the world within the next couple of decades. Disproportionate levels of growth often create global imbalances and tensions, which will need to be addressed in the decades ahead. Looking to the future, it is crucial that both countries and others around the world work hard to build on a foundation of interdependence, to foster stronger and deeper relationships, and to develop a real and full understanding of each other’s cultures among the next generations of business and political leaders. In the 21st century, China is no longer an elective course, it’s core curriculum.
“For the West, this means developing a far richer and more nuanced understanding of China’s social, political and economic context. A win-win relationship of mutual respect between the West and China is vital, benefiting Asia and the rest of the world, and enhancing economic ties that could lead to a new era of mutual prosperity.
“Leveraging the world-class resources and talented people at Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious universities, the program will bring together an exceptional group of students who, we hope, will one day have the power to change the course of history.”
Honorary embers of Schwarzman Scholars advisory board include Tony Blair, Nicolas Sarkozy, Henry Kissinger, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell, Brian Mulroney, Kevin Rudd, and Tung CheeHwa, vice chairman of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.