The founder of the New Oriental Group claimed during an education forum that Chinese women were partly responsible for declining moral standards in the country.
“Chinese women pick men based on their ability to make money and they don’t care if they are good people,” Mr Yu told the conference. “Chinese women’s depravity has led to the nation’s depravity.”
A video of him making these remarks was widely shared on the Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo, where he attracted criticism.
The video has been watched more than 1.1 million times and 3,000 comments have been left underneath.
“China’s useless men will push their responsibility on others,” wrote one user.
“I can only hear his sense of superiority,” agreed another, while somebody else pledged that they would now not register at Mr Yu’s company.
Mr Yu’s remarks were also condemned by Chinese actress Kitty Zhang.
“Even with an education from Peking University and the success of New Oriental, you still don’t understand the value of women and what equality between genders is,” she posted on Sina Weibo. Her comment has been liked more than 750,000 times.
Later on Sunday evening, Mr Yu apologised and tried to clarify his comments, in response to the backlash.
“What I wanted to say was that the worth of women in the country represents the worth of the country,” he wrote on Sina Weibo. “High-quality women and high-quality mothers can educate high-quality children. Men are also guided by women’s values.
“If women pursue an intellectual life, men will become more intelligent. If women care only about money, men will strive to make more money and ignore the cultivation of their spirit. If women are strong, then men are strong, then the country is strong.”
While some users said they did not accept his apology, others were broadly supportive of his comments.
“He is telling the truth, even though the truth makes people feel uncomfortable,” said one comment with 2,000 likes.
“Old Yu’s original point was good, he wanted to awaken those who are not following the correct values,” another comment read.
Who is Yu Minhong?
Yu Minhong founded the New Oriental Group in 1993, offering private English tuition to Chinese students looking to study abroad. The business is now a giant in the world of education and has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2006.
Mr Yu is estimated by Forbes Magazine to be worth $1.8bn (£1.4bn).