BEIJING/WASHINGTON - China on Friday said blind dissident Chen Guangcheng could apply to study abroad, suggesting an end may be near to a diplomatic crisis that has soured relations between Beijing and Washington.

The announcement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry follows a dramatic and very public appeal by Chen, who spoke by phone to a US congressional hearing on his case, asking to be allowed to spend some time in the United States.

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"Chen Guangcheng is currently being treated in hospital," ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a brief statement.


"If he wants to study abroad, he can apply through normal channels to the relevant departments in accordance with the law, just like any other Chinese citizen."