$300M scholarship program in China to build U.S.-China understanding

(CBS News) As the the "center of the world's economy is moving to Asia," private equity firm founder Stephen Schwarzman announced Sunday the creation of a $300 million elite scholarship program for study in China to be modeled after Oxford's famed Rhodes Scholarship program. He said on "Face the Nation" that "China is no longer an elective course, it's really core curriculum."

The $300 million gift represents the largest charitable effort in China's history. Schwarzman donated $100 million of his own money, and the other $200 million will be raised from private donors. Many of those donors already include businesses with large interests in China.

Starting in 2016, 200 students will participate in the program each year and be known as Schwarzman Scholars. Forty-five percent of the students will hail from the United States, 20 percent from China and the others will come from Europe, South Korea, Japan, India. They'll study for one year at Tsinghua University in Beijing in a master's program in public policy, economics, business and international relations.

As the Rhodes Scholarship program was created in the early 20th century to promote understanding and peace, this program aims to build understanding and respect between China and the West. 

Schwarzman told Bob Schieffer, "I thought about the Rhodes and how effective that's been developing so many leaders over the years...and what we tried to do was adapt that as best we could to bring students, instead of to Oxford in England, to bring them to Tsinghua."

In a press release, Schwarzman explained, "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."

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called the rise of China "one of the central challenges of our time" in a press release for the Schwarzman Scholars program, adding "we need to forge a deeper understanding between the U.S. and China." Another former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, was also quoted in the press release emphasizing the importance of the U.S.-China relationship, saying since the future of both countries are entertwined economically and politically "there is no better way" to ensure mutual respect and understanding than "through the development of the next generation of leaders."

Both Kissinger and Rice are on the Honorary Advisory Board, along with world leaders including former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former leaders from the U.S., China, Ireland, Canada and Australia.