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Yale alum's gift stirs reaction in China

  • Gift is the largest ever pledged to Yale's management school
  • Part of Lei's gift will help provide scholarships for Chinese students, Yale says
  • Nearly 49 percent of votes indicated there is nothing wrong with Lei's gift

Beijing, China (CNN) -- A Chinese millionaire's $8,888,888 gift to Yale University has impressed and provoked his countrymen.

Lei Zhang's donation will help pay for a new School of Management campus at Yale and a new auditorium there will bear his name, the school announced last week. He received a master's degree in business from the school in 2002.

The gift is the largest ever pledged to the management school. The dollar amount is based on the number eight, which Chinese regard as lucky.

Reactions to Lei's gift have ranged from obscenity-laced rants to understanding, according to translated forum comments on chinaSMACK, an aggregator of stories on China's Internet.

"Traitor, were you born with the knowledge you had before going to America?" one poster asked.

"Why not donate the money to those in China who cannot afford to go to school, the impoverished areas who cannot afford to build schools?" another wrote before calling Lei a "double-crossing bastard."

Others defended Lei's gift.

"Yale helped him achieve his current career and he is gratefully repaying them, we should be pleased," a blogger wrote.

"From an objective perspective, who others donate their money to is their personal business, and there is no reason they must donate to China," another wrote.

Part of Lei's gift will help provide scholarships for Chinese students in the International Relations Program at the school's new Jackson Institute of Global Affairs, Yale said in a statement. The money also will support China-related activities at the university, including a program in cooperation with China's Ministry of Education to train Chinese university presidents.

A poll question on chinaSMACK asked: "What do you think about Chinese graduates donating large sums of money to Yale?"

Of the nearly 45,000 votes that the Web site said it attracted, nearly 49 percent indicated that there is nothing wrong with Lei's gift, while 39.5 percent indicated that he should have first donated money to his own country's education. More than 11 percent were undecided.

Lei is the founder and managing partner of Hillhouse Capital Management, a Beijing-based investment fund overseeing an estimated $2.5 billion.