Taiwan billionaire launches $125m Asian 'Nobel Prize'

TAIPEI (AFP) - One of Taiwan's richest men on Monday launched what has been widely touted as the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, and it is even more lucrative than the famed Swedish award.

Samuel Yin, head of the sprawling Ruentex business empire, said that by donating Tw$3 billion ($125 million) for the Tang Prize he had fulfilled one of his biggest dreams.

"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.

Beginning in 2014 prizes will be awarded every two years in four different categories - sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and the "rule of law" - to individuals, regardless of nationality.

The winner in each category will receive Tw$50 million ($2.1 million), compared to the eight million Swedish kronor ($1.5 million) that comes with a Nobel Prize.

The Tang Prize will help raise Taiwan's profile in the international scientific community, the state-run Central News Agency reported.

Nobel Prizes are awarded in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.

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