Blind activist Chen Guangcheng can apply to study abroad, China's Foreign Ministry said today.
The move possibly paves the way to resolving a diplomatic stand-off with the United States.
The ministry said in a statement on its website that Mr Chen would be allowed to apply to study overseas "in accordance with laws of relevant departments". It did not immediately give details.
Mr Chen is seeking US help to leave the country after he fled house arrest and sought refuge at the US Embassy. He is now being treated at a hospital while the two countries discuss his case.
The ministry statement was the most positive response so far from the Chinese side.