Blackstone chief launches China scholars programme

Schwarzman Scholars raised $435 million, with Blackstone co-founder Stephen Schwarzman contributing an initial $100 million.

Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder, chairman, and chief executive of alternative asset powerhouse Blackstone, welcomed on 10 September the inaugural class of 110 Schwarzman Scholars at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, saying in a statement that the scholars would “help to build stronger links between China and a rapidly changing world”.

The Schwarzman Scholars programme at Tsinghua University was announced almost three years ago, and each year selects up to 200 scholars from the US, China, and around the world, who enrol in a one-year master’s degree programme in global affairs at Tsinghua. The programme includes a year of cultural immersion and travelling in China to develop a better understanding of the fast-growing nation, now the world’s second-largest economy after the US.

Schwarzman Scholars will also work in tandem with the Oxford University-based Rhodes Trust, which administers the Rhodes Scholarship, to co-develop a next-generation leadership experience for the students.

“A win-win relationship of mutual respect and understanding between China and the West is vital to continued global peace and prosperity,” Schwarzman said. “These scholars, and those who follow, will play an important role in fostering friendship, cooperation, and collaboration in our increasingly interconnected and constantly shrinking world.”

At the inauguration on Saturday, Schwarzman formally launched Schwarzman College on the campus of Tsinghua University. The college is modelled after Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and is the Scholars programme’s dedicated academic and residential building. In addition to classrooms, Schwarzman College also houses an International Conference Center and an auditorium.

Schwarzman contributed $100 million to the programme and raised about $350 million from global companies and foundations including Delta Airlines, GlenCcore, China Resources (Holdings) Company, Citi, GE, and The PepsiCo Foundation.

Applications opened in the fall of 2015, with the first class of 110 students in residence in 2016. Schwarzman Scholars is now accepting applications for its second class of scholars, who will enrol in August 2017.

Blackstone, which manages about $356 billion of assets, has committed nearly $100 billion in private equity investments globally. The firm has several retail and logistics investments in China, including a joint venture partnership with Chinese real estate developer Vanke to buy logistics assets, as well as a 40 percent stake in mall developer SZITIC Commercial Property.