George Mason University President Alan G. Merten is on a three-week tour of Asia to promote relationships between the school and Asian education and business institutions, GMU officials said.

Merten, who arrived in China on Sunday and is scheduled to return Nov. 6, will visit Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, and Taipei, Taiwan. Merten plans to meet with educators, government and community leaders, George Mason University graduates and prospective students.

School officials could not provide the cost of Merten's trip, but they said a combination of state and private money was covering the expenses.

On Saturday, he is scheduled to give the keynote address, "Universities as a Primary Driver of Economic Development," at the China International Forum on Education in Beijing. Also while in China, Merten is scheduled to visit Fudan and Shanghai Jiaotong universities in Shanghai and Beihang and Tsinghua universities in Beijing, among others. The university president will also meet with the Chinese ministers of science and technology, and education.

While in Seoul from Wednesday to Nov. 2, Merten is planning to meet with South Korean officials from the ministry of education and visit Seoul National University, Korea University, Ewha Women's University, Yonsei University, Keimyung University, Kyungpook National University, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Tongmyong University of Information Technology and Youngsan University.

From Nov. 2 to 6, Merten will make his final tour stops in Taiwan, visiting Taipei's National Sun Yat-sen University, FooYin College of Technology, Tainan University, National Taipei College of Nursing, National Taiwan University and National Tsing Hua University. He will also meet with Taiwanese business and government leaders.

According to GMU officials, the school has maintained connections with the Asian nations over the last 20 years through programs of study abroad, joint research and student and faculty exchanges.

One program, the Sino-American Leadership Training Initiative, will allow George Mason to invite two Chinese university administrators to spend eight weeks next year studying how the American school operates. A proposed program would allow for the selection of American and Chinese undergraduates to earn degrees while studying for two years in each country.

GMU officials said they hope Merten's tour will strengthen the Asian partnerships and raise the international profile of the Fairfax-based university.

Alan G. Merten's itinerary includes China, South Korea and Taiwan.