Chinese Endowments to U.S. Universities

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Dec 14, 2016 02:10
Today, I learned from a Chinese media report that a Chinese entrepreneur, Chen Tianqiao, announced that he had decided to donate $100 million to the neuroscience center at Caltech, California. This is the initial step of his $1billion donation plan to this field to fund scientific research on human sensation, perception, cognition, and behavior. Mr. Chen said that he made this decision to bankroll Caltech after seven years of observation.

Many Chinese netizens commented on this news. A few questioned, “Why fund an unfriendly country?” Since the website I was reading is “right-leaning,” most commenters enthusiastically supported Chen, saying “That's wonderful! This is for the entire human race!” China has made huge progress on its own in this field over the past few years. Such praise for this overseas donation can, in fact, be interpreted as a vent for their resentment of corruption in China’s universities. Many people in China believe that Chinese universities tend to misuse funds, so few people donate money to them.

For many reasons, there isn’t a strong charity culture in China. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet went to China years ago and launched a campaign to encourage billionaires to donate, but they ended up failing. However, some Chinese entrepreneurs are eager to endow American universities. For instance, Zhang Xin, a renowned real estate businesswoman in China, donated 15 million US dollars to Harvard. Zhang Lei, an entrepreneur in the financial industry, endowed $88,888,888 to Yale. (Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture.) Chen Qizong, a successful businessman in Hong Kong, bankrolled $0.35 billion to Harvard, making the largest single donation to Harvard in its history.

Zhang Xin had a miserable upbringing as a child laborer, but, somehow, she managed to attend Cambridge years later. Zhang Lei had previously studied in a renowned university in Beijing before attending Yale, but he said that it was Yale that had shaped his world-view and changed his life. Chen Qizong is an alumnus of Harvard. There’s one thing in common between the above donors: they are grateful to their alma maters or, on a larger scale, to Western education. However, Chen Tianqiao’s donation seems more altruistic since he never went to any Western university - he simply wanted to fund science.

Sigh. As you can see, many Chinese people don’t believe in China’s universities. What a pity!

[Revised]
今天我看了一则新闻,说是中国企业家陈天桥决定捐款一亿美元给美国加州理工神经科学研究中心,这是他的10亿美元捐赠计划的第一步,旨在资助科学家进行人类感觉、感知、认知和行为方面的研究。陈天桥说,他是经过7年的观察,才做出的决定。

很多人评论了这条新闻。一些人质疑:“为什么要给钱给一个不友好的国家?”由于我看的新闻网站有点偏右,大部分网友都赞赏他这种行为,说“真是太棒了!为了全人类!” 中国近年来也在该领域取得了很大的进步。其实,这些网友的言论可以看做是在发泄他们对中国大学机构腐**败问题的不满。很多国人认为中国的大学会滥用资金,所以很少有人会捐钱。

由于很多原因,中国没有一个很强的捐赠文化。比尔盖茨和巴菲特几年前来中国,发起一项倡议捐赠的活动,但以失败告终。同时,一些中国企业家却非常热衷捐钱给美国的大学。比如,张欣,中国一位著名的房地产女企业家,捐赠了1500万美元给哈佛。张磊,金融企业家,捐赠了 88888888 美元给耶鲁。陈启宗,一位成功的香港企业家,捐赠了3.5亿美元给哈佛,是该校历史上最大的一笔单次捐款。

张欣在英国剑桥大学读过书。张磊以前在北京一所著名大学读本科,后来去了耶鲁,强调是耶鲁改变了他的人生观和他的人生。陈企宗则是哈佛校友。以上人物都有一个共同点,即他们感恩母校,更大点说是西方教育。而陈天桥的理由则更为普世,因为他从未在西方国家上过学,他只是想资助科学研究。