Private equity mogul Steve Schwarzman told CNBC on Thursday that he's starting a $300 million scholarship in China in hopes of defusing tensions "on a generational basis" between the second largest economy and the Western world.
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Last month, he announced the scholarship in Beijing and said he donated $100 million of his own money to jumpstart the effort. He said he's raised another $100 million so far and hopes to raise the rest by the end of the year.
Inspired by the Rhodes scholarships, Schwarzman explained why he started his program. "I saw the increasing unhappiness in different societies in the West." He said he was concerned about that being directed at China in the form of "potential for trade tensions, economic tensions, military tensions."
"I was looking for a way to defuse this problem on a generational basis," he said. "I tried to figure out how to attract great students to China to learn what they are doing so that they can go back to their countries and interpret what was happening in China."
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The Schwarzman Scholars will be housed at Tsinghua University in Beijing, of which the Blackstone chairman and CEO serves on the board of its business school. The first class of what will eventually be 200 students is scheduled start in June 2016.
"We're going to have 20 percent Chinese kids, 45 percent from the U.S., and 35 percent from the rest of the world," Schwarzman said.
"Most Americans and most Europeans don't spend their time thinking about the second largest economy in the world and the largest populous country in the world," he said, adding that he wants that to change.
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Schwarzman stressed that his scholarship program has nothing to do with Blackstone's business dealings in China. "We have a terrific relationship with the people in China. Nobody needed to throw $300 million on the table to get somebody's attention."