Blackstone Chief Creates China Scholarshop Program

Apr 24 2013 | 10:18am ET

The Blackstone Group's Stephen Schwarzman has given $100 million—and pledged to raise twice as much—to establish a Rhodes scholarship-type program at one of China's most prestigious universities.

The gift will fund full scholarships to Tsinghua University for 200 students, primarily from the U.S. There are currently eight Chinese students studying in the U.S. for every American student in China.

"I think most Americans know next to nothing about China," Schwarzman said. "China is not top of mind." The private-equity billionaire added that he hoped the program would help ease tensions between China and the U.S.

Schwarzman said the program was suggested to him by Tsinghua.

The program's advisory board features a who's who of retired Western politicians, including three former U.S. Secretaries of State—Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice—former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

In a videotaped message played at the announcement ceremony in Beijing, Kissinger said he hoped the program "will one day help shape the future of international discourse and diplomacy."

Blackstone has been extremely active in China, and China's sovereign-wealth fund, China Investment Corp., owns a 12.5% stake in the firm.

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