April 3, 1999 – Hong Kong – The Li Ka Shing Foundation and Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd have pledged to donate HK$70 million to establish the “Cheung Kong Scholars Programme” and the “Cheung Kong Achievement Awards” in cooperation with PRC’s Ministry of Education. The Programme and the Awards are part of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd Chairman Li Ka-shing’s efforts to support Mainland China’s long term strategy of “Developing the Country Through Science and Education”.
The “Cheung Kong Scholars Programme” calls for the engagement of specially appointed professors – “Cheung Kong Scholars” – with each of them being granted an annual supplementary income of HK$100,000, while those professors with particularly outstanding achievements presented with the “Cheung Kong Achievement Awards” will each be awarded upto HK$1 million.
The Ministry of Education and the Li Ka-shing Foundation jointly held a ceremony yesterday (April 2) at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to officially appoint the first group of “Cheung Kong Scholars” as well as to present the first “Cheung Kong Achievement Awards” to the outstanding academics.
Senior officials attending the ceremony included Vice-Premier Li Lanqing and Chen Zhili, Minister of Education. The number of “Cheung Kong Scholars” present at the ceremony amounted to 73. They are from 40 universities and amongst them, 17 are from overseas.
In his speech delivered at the ceremony, Mr Li Ka-shing said, “The State leaders called upon the country to ‘develop China through science and education’. This is the most important target at present, and is one upon which our nation’s future will be based. Facing the challenges brought in by the 21st century’s rapid advancement in technology, we must push forward the concept of valuing knowledge, which is a top priority. The advancement of science plays a key part in the development of the country’s economy as a whole.”
In encouraging awarded scholars, Mr Li expressed, “I hope you will bring your potential into full play and integrate new technology and knowledge with China’s strong cultural background to further enrich our country’s wisdom. Your contribution in encouraging more young students to excel in their fields and in the research and development of science and technology will be very important to our nation’s future.”
The first “Cheung Kong Achievement Awards” went to Mr Chen Zhu, Professor Xia Jiahui and his team, and Professor Fan Shoushan. Mr Chen Zhu is a pioneer in China’s biomedical science who is engaged in China’s mankind gene programme, and has contributed greatly to the treatment of leukemia. Professor Xia Jiahui and his team last year cloned a gene that leads to deafness, the first hereditary disease gene cloning work carried out in China, while Professor Fan Shoushan is a renowned scientist who produced Togassium Nitride One-Dimensional Nano-Crystals.
Minister of Education Chen Zhili pointed out, “The programme’s objectives are to attract, select, and nurture scientists who carry out high level research works. These scientists bring their fields of work to new heights. Through their persistent hard works and their leadership, the standard and the competitiveness of our country’s universities will be greatly enhanced.”
The “Cheung Kong Scholars” are all outstanding academic leaders, including many young scientists returning from abroad.
Established in 1980, the Li Ka-shing Foundation offers a majority of its donations to education and medical programmes as Mr Li believes that education and medical care are pillars of China’s development, and are most meaningful. In the fields of education, the Foundation has sponsored many large scale projects. Besides the “Cheung Kong Scholars Programme”, other well-known initiatives donated by the Foundation include the founding of Shantou University and its medical school (HK$1.2 billion over the past decade or so), the new Peking University library, the establishment of Rural Primary Schools for the poverty stricken children as well as research funds for universities in Hong Kong