Updated: 06/15/2014 21:00 | By Agence France-Presse

Winners of Asian 'Nobel prizes' to be announced

The Tang Prize, founded by one of Taiwan's richest men and touted as the Asian equivalent of the Nobels, will this week unveil its first winners, organisers said Sunday.


Winners of Asian 'Nobel prizes' to be announced

This handout photo taken by the Tang Prize Foundation on January 28, 2013 shows Samuel Yin attending a press conference in Taipei - by Tang Prize Foundation

The biennial prize, founded by Samuel Yin in 2012 with a donation of Tw$3 billion ($100 million), will be awarded for the first time on Wednesday in the category of "sustainable development".

Winners of the three other categories -- biopharmaceutical science, Sinology (the study of China) and "rule of law" -- will be unveiled daily from Thursday to Saturday.

The winner in each category will receive Tw$50 million ($1.7 million) compared to the eight million Swedish kronor ($1.2 million) that comes with a Nobel Prize. 

Nobels are awarded in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.

While many of the Tang Prize selection procedures are modelled on the Nobel, their concerns are different.

"The Nobel Prize was set up more than a century ago and lots of the problems challenging human beings in the 21st century had not emerged at that time," Tang Prize Foundation CEO Chern Jenn-chuan told AFP.

"Sustainable development has become increasingly important to the Earth as it suffers more huge disasters and damage due to improper developments by mankind," he said.

The foundation is also concerned to promote the balanced pursuit of the rule of law in various countries while they push for democracy, Chern said. 

The Tang Prize selection committee is led by Yuan T. Lee, a Taiwan-born scientist who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1986.

Yin, head of the sprawling Ruentex business empire which has invested heavily in China, said he had fulfilled one of his biggest dreams with his donation.

"I hope that the prize will encourage more research that is beneficial to the world and humankind, promote Chinese culture and make the world a better place," he said in a statement.

The prize is named after China's Tang Dynasty (618-907), which is much admired by Yin.

Yin has said he will donate 95 percent of his wealth to charity during his lifetime. His net assets are estimated by Forbes magazine at $4.5 billion.

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