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US tycoon breaks ground for China scholars project

Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman of US private equity firm Blackstone Photo:

Construction of a residential college named after Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman of US private equity firm Blackstone, has begun at China's prestigious Tsinghua University.

Inspired by the residential colleges at Harvard and Cambridge, the eight-storey building, designed by the dean of Yale's School of Architecture Robert A. M. Stern, will feature an auditorium, a library, a sunken garden, a dining hall, fitness area and faculty apartments, covering an area of 24,000 square meters.

The building is part of the Schwarzman Scholars program. Schwarzman has donated $100 million and raised an additional $160 million together with Tsinghua University in one year.

The money being raised is the largest-ever philanthropic gift for China from overseas. Schwarzman is expected to raise a total of $300 million for the program.

Schwarzman College is due to be completed in spring 2016. Admissions will open in autumn 2015, with the first class of students in residence by summer 2016.

"My vision for Schwarzman scholars is to help educate a future class of leaders who will advance relationships of mutual respect between the west and China, reducing tensions and leading to a new era of mutual prosperity," said Schwarzman at a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction on Thursday.

The Schwarzman Scholarship Program will pay all expenses for 200 students each year from around the world.

Forty-five percent of students admitted to the program will come from the US, 20 percent from China and the remaining 35 percent from the top 20 economies in the world. Students will have a choice between four academic disciplines: public policy, international relations, economics and engineering.

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