Schwarzman anchors $300m China endowment

The Blackstone co-founder has donated $100m to create an endowment at Beijing's Tsinghua University. Advisors including Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger and Christine Lagard have signed on to the initiative, which aims to raise $300m.

Stephen Schwarzman is at the centre of what's being called the largest-ever internationally funded philanthropic initiative in China.

The Blackstone Group's chief executive has personally donated $100 million to create the 'Schwarzman Scholars' scholarship programme at Tsinghua University in Beijing, according to a statement. 

The programme launched a fundraising campaign to raise a further $200 million for the endowment and has already raised half of that amount from private donors, which include BP, China Resources, GE, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, Caterpillar, Deloitte and Sun Capital Partners, according to a statement. 

China's economy is growing at three times the rate of the West, and if that growth continues, China will become the largest economy in the world within the next couple of decades

Stephen Schwarzman

“While the 20th century was defined by U.S. 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.

”China’s economy is growing at three times the rate of the West, and if that growth continues, China will become the largest economy in the world within the next couple of decades. Disproportionate levels of growth often create global imbalances and tensions, which will need to be addressed in the decades ahead.”

Based on the Rhodes Scholarship, Schwarzman Scholars will support 200 students annually for a one-year master’s degree programme at Tsinghua University in Beijing under the direction of dean David Daokui Li, a Chinese economist and former member of China’s currency board. The initiative has also attracted an impressive roster of financial, foreign policy and higher education gurus to its advisory board, including Tony Blair, Henry Kissinger, Henry Paulson, Nicolas Sarkozy, Christine Lagard, and many more.

Students will come predominantly from the US, but those from Europe, South Korea, Japan, India and other areas of the globe will be considered. The scholars will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures by heads of state, travelling throughout the country, and “developing a true understanding of China”, according to the statement.

Schwarzman founded The Blackstone Group in 1985. The firm today has $210 billion in assets under management. Blackstone has also been one of the first foreign movers into China’s private equity market, being one of the first five funds to obtain approval for Shanghai’s Qualified Foreign Limited Partnership programme. 

Blackstone has made significant investments in China's real estate market as well. In January, the firm partnered with Hong Kong-listed developer China Resources to develop a 6.45 million-square-foot mass housing development near Shanghai that could cost $1.8 billion, sister-publication PERE reported earlier. The tie-up indicates the firm’s intention to greatly increase its exposure to Chinese real estate. 

At a New Jersey State Investment Council meeting in January, Schwarzman said, “China’s growth has gone down, but don’t be mistaken, they’re growing at 7.5 percent, [the US is] growing at 2 percent. Something amazing is happening in China, something not amazing is going on here.”