Blackstone Group Chairman Stephen Schwarzman has agreed to give US$100 million for a programme that will fund the studies of graduate students in China, similar to the Rhodes Scholarships programme.
An additional US$200 million of donations is also being sought for the Schwarzman Scholars programme, which will support 200 students annually for a one-year master's programme at Beijing's Tsinghua University, according to a statement.
Li Daokui, a former academic adviser to China's central bank, will oversee the programme that will enrol students hailing predominantly from the US, along with others from Europe, South Korea, Japan, India and other nations.
A residential building designed specifically for the program will also be built, with the first group of students slated for 2016, according to the statement. The advisory board for the Schwarzman programme include former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, former UK prime minister Tony Blair and three former US Secretaries of State: Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.
"While the 20th century was defined by US 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," Schwarzman said in the statement. The 66-year-old has an estimated net worth of US$7.3 billion, ranking him 163 on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index as of April 21.
To underscore the significance of the Schwarzman Scholars programme and China's importance in future world leadership, both President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama sent congratulatory letters, which were read out at the announcement ceremony at Tsinghua University.
The Rhodes Scholarships selects 32 Americans each year to study at the University of Oxford in the UK. The first American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904, according to the programme's website.