Netizens cheer, jeer couple's $15m donation to Harvard

Updated: 2014-07-25 07:20

By Agence France-Presse (China Daily)

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Netizens cheer, jeer couple's $15m donation to Harvard

A Chinese billionaire couple have come under fire for donating $15 million to Harvard, one of the richest universities in the United States.

Some Internet users say the money would have been better spent on students in China.

However others support the move by Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, the husband-and-wife duo behind real estate giant SOHO China.

The pair are giving $100 million to fund disadvantaged Chinese students at top universities around the world.

The first stage of the program was last week's gift to the Ivy League institution, widely regarded as one of the world's best universities.

Pan is not only one of China's wealthiest people but also one of the country's leading bloggers, with nearly 17 million followers on Sina Weibo.

China is the largest source country for international students in the US, providing more than a quarter of all foreign students, according to the Institute of International Education.

Many of those young people's studies are funded by their families, but Zhang told The Wall Street Journal that the firm's SOHO China Scholarships will be aimed at encouraging financially strapped Chinese students to apply to study abroad.

Some netizens sharply criticized Pan and Zhang, questioning the couple's motives and arguing that disadvantaged students within China are more deserving of help.

"They despise their own country and people," one netizen wrote on Thursday.

Another netizen added: "Taking Chinese people's money and giving it to people who are able to study in America - what a great definition of 'poverty'!"

Others defended the couple, who have also established a foundation to support education in rural parts of China.

"A lot of people are saying Pan Shiyi and his wife spent $15 million to buy their son a ticket to Harvard," wrote one. "However, we shouldn't find fault with how they decide to spend their own money."

Zhang responded to the criticism on her micro blog, writing that without funding for poor students, good education would be reserved for the wealthy.

"Our scholarships will change this phenomenon," she added.

(China Daily 07/25/2014 page4)