The new world order

Fascinating report in the Economist.

WHEN Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman of Blackstone Group, a private-equity firm, announced in Beijing on Sunday the $300m Schwarzman Scholars programme to send students to China to study, it was a testament to China’s place in the world as a new centre of gravity. Its gravitational pull on corporate money is already fearsome: Behind Mr Schwarzman himself, a long list of companies and individuals with substantial business interests in China have lined up to contribute to the programme: Boeing, an airplane maker; Caterpillar, a maker of bulldozers and excavators; BP, an oil company; and several large banks.

Schwarzman Scholars will fund scholarships beginning in 2016 for 200 students a year from much of the world to attend classes at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, the alma mater of President Xi Jinping and of many other top leaders (Mr Xi sent a letter to the announcement ceremony). The scholarship is to fund the studies of 10,000 students over 50 years.

As the piece goes on to point out, this idea is modelled on the Rhodes Scholars scheme, which brought bright kids to Oxford at a time when Britain was seen as the centre of the world. How times change.