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China says dissident can apply to study abroad

China said on Friday blind dissident Chen Guangcheng could apply to study abroad, a move praised by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and suggesting an end may be near to a diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Washington. But rights activists sounded a note of caution over expectations of a quick way out for Chen, saying Beijing could be worried that appearing to be soft might embolden other challengers to Communist Party rule ahead of a power handover late this year.
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