The 2011 Mead world tour continues; in the last couple of months I’ve visited the UK, Russia, Israel and the West Bank. Today I’m leaving for China, where I’ll be meeting with academics, participating in seminars and giving lectures on US foreign policy in cities ranging from Shenyang and Anshan in the north to Guangzhou and Chongqing farther south. I try to get to China every couple of years or so; there is really no other way to get a sense of the most dramatic economic surge in the known history of the world.This is going to affect posting; between the time difference and a tight schedule in China keeping up the blog is going to challenge the abilities of Team Via Meadia. As readers can see by checking the new masthead, it takes a village to maintain a blog. During the next couple of weeks our capacities will be stretched to the limit as we work to research and prep posts while I am busy in China. This will by my longest trip abroad since we added short posts and daily posts to the blog last July; thanks to readers for bearing with the team as we wrestle with the challenges of putting out a regular blog in changing circumstances.Via Meadia is still an experiment; perhaps it will always be one. Readers make daily decisions whether or not to check in; periodically I have to sit back and think about whether this format still works for me. So far, it seems to be working pretty well. Traffic continues to climb, and I continue to be energized rather than crushed by the need to write every day. How all that meshes with a trip to China remains to be seen. I apologize in advance if we aren’t able to maintain a regular schedule of interesting posts.One thing I’m looking forward to on this trip: observing the progress of China’s universities. The transformation of China’s academic institutions and the increasing sophistication and free spirit of both teachers and students is genuinely awe inspiring. With so many Chinese studying overseas, and more and more international students studying in China, the level of knowledge of the external world and the interest in events beyond China’s frontiers is higher than ever. Each time I come to China the students are better read, more widely informed — and still on the whole more hardworking and determined than their peers in most of the rest of the world. The last time I was in Shanghai, a student startled me with a very thoughtful question based on her extensive and thorough reading of St. Augustine’s City of God; I can’t wait to see what they are reading now.I expect to get a lot of questions, and not a few comments, on topics like the Senate’s misguided and futile Chinese currency bill; there will also be lots of discussion about America’s economic difficulties and political gridlock. These kind of exchanges with students, journalists and faculty give me at least some sense of how Chinese public opinion is responding to world trends. It’s interesting to hear how different generations of Chinese students think about the political reform agenda their own country faces, and to follow the changing trends in how they evaluate their own government.I’ll be back shortly before the end of the month, in time for a conference on Hannah Arendt and Family Weekend at Bard, and look forward to a relatively quiet final half of the semester. In the meantime, I’ll do my best with the help of the team to continue to provide useful commentary on what look to me to be the most important developments remaking our world.