Veteran democracy and human rights activist Ren Wanding has been granted permission to visit Hong Kong this month. Mr Ren said last night he would visit the city for a week from next Monday with his wife, Zhang Fengying. His main stated purpose is to have a medical examination, but he also plans to meet pan-democrats. The 63-year-old was sentenced to jail terms totalling 11 years for his part in the drafting of 'China's Declaration of Human Rights' in 1979, the setting up of the China Human Rights Alliance and his role in the democracy movement in 1989. He was refused permission to go to the United States in 1998. He said he believed the openness being displayed by mainland authorities ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games had played a part in the success of his application this time. 'They have already allowed foreign journalists to interview freely all kinds of people, including people of our kind,' he said. Mr Ren said he had not encountered much difficulty with his application. 'I made it very clear that I am going to Hong Kong for a physical check. They did not have any reason to say no,' he said. But he said he was well aware that the rules of the game required him to keep a low profile. 'They didn't spell out what I should do and shouldn't. But that has always been the way they deal with such cases.' Mr Ren has been living in Beijing under surveillance and was under house arrest from August to the end of December. 'I'm planning to meet some members of the democratic camp, like [Albert] Ho Chun-yan, or Szeto Wah, or [Martin] Lee Chu-ming, but it's not fixed yet,' Mr Ren said. Despite saying he planned to keep a low profile, Mr Ren offered some critical comments on Hong Kong politics. He said the chief executive election, like the whole Hong Kong political system, was 'half democratic, half non-democratic'. Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Beijing had already realised that releasing people like Mr Ren would enhance its international image without harming internal stability. He said Mr Ren had been a long-time democratic activist but could not be regarded as an icon of the movement. The case was an individual one and gave few clues to what Beijing would do next.