Blackstone founder touts scholarship effort in China as Rhodes rival

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Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 12:00 am

BEIJING (AP) — A U.S. private equity tycoon has announced the establishment of a $300 million endowed scholarship program in China for students from around the world and is billing it as a rival to the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

Stephen Schwarzman, founder of the private equity firm Blackstone, said Sunday that he would give $100 million as a personal gift and raise an additional $200 million to endow the Schwarzman Scholars program at Beijing's Tsinghua University. It will be the largest philanthropic gift with foreign money in China's history, according to the tycoon and the university.

The Wall Street mogul said China's rapid economic growth and rising global influence would define the 21st century, as U.S. ties to Europe did to the 20th century — when the Rhodes Scholarship was created at Oxford University with the goal of producing outstanding leaders.

“China is no longer an elective course, it's core curriculum,” he said in Beijing.

By partnering with the prestigious Chinese university, Schwarzman said he hoped the educational program would train future world leaders and play a positive role in relations between China and the United States.

“For future geopolitical stability and global prosperity, we need to build a culture of greater trust and understanding between China, America and the rest of the world,” he said.

Tsinghua — known for its engineering programs but in the midst of transforming itself to be more comprehensive in academic offerings — also has produced many of China's senior leaders, who have traditionally been technocrats. It is the alma mater for both President Xi Jinping and former President Hu Jintao.

The $300 million endowment will allow 200 students each year to take part in a one-year master's program at Tsinghua — all expenses paid — in public policy, economics and business, international relations or engineering, beginning in 2016. Schwarzman said 45 percent of the students would come from the United States, 20 percent from China and the rest from other parts of the world.

Already, $100 million has been raised in the last six months from private donors, Schwarzman said.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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