“China is no longer an elective course, it’s core curriculum,” Stephen Schwarzman in Beijing. (Associated Press, in Fox News, April 22, 2013)
When it begins in 2016, the Schwarzman Scholarship programme will match the 111-year-old Rhodes in the numbers of students and the size of its endowment. (Today Online)
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S$370m scholarship aims to cool Beijing-West tensions
Creation of programme for study in China shows country’s importance to Wall Street financiers, corporate leaders
Source – TODAYonline, published April 22, 2013
Mr Stephen Schwarzman is creating a S$370- million scholarship for study in China that he hopes will rival the Rhodes Scholarship in prestige and influence. Photo: Bloomberg
HONG KONG — The private-equity tycoon Stephen Schwarzman, backed by an array of mostly Western blue-chip companies with interests in China, is creating a US$300 million (S$370 million) scholarship for study in China that he hopes will rival the Rhodes Scholarship in prestige and influence.
The programme, whose endowment represents one of the largest single gifts to education in the world and one of the largest philanthropic gifts in China, was announced by Mr Schwarzman in Beijing yesterday.
The Schwarzman Scholars programme will pay all expenses for 200 students each year from around the world for a one-year master’s programme at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of the country’s top universities.
The programme’s creation underlines the tremendous importance of China and its market to Wall Street financiers and corporate leaders, who have become increasingly anxious as security and economic frictions grow between China and the West.
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Mr Schwarzman said his goal was to reduce such tensions by educating the world’s future leaders, but his role in the project will also raise his political profile in China, potentially giving him and his private equity firm, the Blackstone Group, increased access to Chinese leaders, including new Chinese President Xi Jinping, who previously attended Tsinghua.
Mr Schwarzman said he was donating US$100 million from his personal fortune, which Forbes estimated last month at US$6.5 billion. He plans to raise another US$200 million, adding that he had raised US$100 million from donors and expects to raise the remaining by the end of this year.
Most of the donors have sprawling business interests in China and frequently deal with government regulators and state-owned enterprises that have wide discretion over the activities of foreign companies.
Many large Western companies have been pressing for closer ties with China, even though security experts warn about China’s military expansion and territorial claims and many smaller businesses and labour groups warn that China seeks to dominate a wide range of industries.
Mr Schwarzman said his concern was that as long as the Chinese economy grows two to three times as quickly as the American economy and with European economies barely growing at all, tensions are only likely to rise.
“The idea was to deal with this problem in a generational manner,” he said in a video interview from New York, adding later in an email: “I feel grateful to be able to have the resources to help change future leaders to impact their countries’ and China’s destinies.”
The programme will not be Mr Schwarzman’s first major foray into China. In 2007, he sold a US$3-billion stake in the company to the China Investment Corporation (CIC), the country’s giant sovereign wealth fund.
Mr Schwarzman said his scholarship programme had nothing to do with Blackstone or the CIC. “This is a private thing by me, it’s not a Blackstone initiative,” he said.
When it begins in 2016, the Schwarzman Scholarship programme will match the 111-year-old Rhodes in the numbers of students and the size of its endowment.
The Rhodes endowment is worth about US$203 million, according to its trustees. It awards grants to 83 scholars a year, said Dr John Hood, a former Vice-Chancellor of Oxford who is the Chairman of the Rhodes trustees.