New Taiwanese Foundation to Support 'Asia's Nobel Prizes'

Taiwanese tycoon and Ruentex Group head Samuel Yin has announced the creation of a foundation to support what local media in Taiwan are calling "Asia's Nobel Prizes," the Associated Press reports.

Starting next year, the Tang Prize Foundation will fund biennial prizes of $1.7 million to international leaders in fields that have "intrinsic importance for humanity" but are not eligible for the Nobel Prize, which since 1901 has been awarded for outstanding achievements in chemistry, literature, physics, physiology or medicine, and peace. Named after the Chinese dynasty that ruled the country from 618-907 A.D., the Tang Prizes will be awarded in the fields of biopharmaceutical science, sustainable development, the study of China, and the rule of law, with winners to be chosen by special committees set up by the Academia Sinica, a highly regarded research institution in Taiwan.

According to the AP, Yin — who pledged last year to donate the bulk of his $3.38 billion estate to charity — has given generously to various causes during his lifetime. In addition to helping fund construction of a 155-mile railway in eastern China, Yin has provided scholarships to thousands of Chinese students and supported the development of Peking University's Guanghua School of Management.