CHINA made United States President Bill Clinton's decision to renew its Most Favoured Nation (MFN) trading status almost a foregone conclusion yesterday by releasing Chen Ziming, the second alleged ''black hand'' behind the 1989 democracy movement. Chen, 41, was released from Beijing No 2 prison early yesterday morning and, together with his wife Wang Zhihong, was immediately escorted by police to an undisclosed destination outside the capital for ''medical treatment''. He will stay out of Beijing for about 20 days, or until just after the fifth anniversary of the June 4 massacre and Mr Clinton's MFN deadline, according to his sister, Chen Zihua, who saw him briefly after his release. ''They originally wanted to send him abroad, but Chen said he wanted to stay in China,'' she said. Ms Chen said her brother was in good spirits. ''He was positive, but you could see he was tired. He has problems with his heart and has a bad skin ailment but I should say his condition is not that serious.'' Chen's release on medical bail after serving nearly five years of a 13-year sentence, comes just three weeks after his alleged co-conspirator in the 1989 democracy movement, Wang Juntao, was allowed to travel to the US for medical treatment and follows the release of six Chinese Christians over the last couple of days. Analysts said the Chinese Government was determined to put the question of MFN renewal beyond doubt by providing Mr Clinton with enough ammunition to silence even the harshest critics in Congress of Beijing's human rights record. ''They really are going for broke with this one,'' one Western diplomat said in Beijing. ''I'm sure they could have got MFN this year without releasing Chen so this latest gesture is probably aimed at getting MFN decoupled from human rights altogether.'' The Clinton administration is actively considering removing human rights from the MFN equation after encountering intense criticism of its China policy from politicians, business executives and the media, and analysts said yesterday's release would certainly help the President out of his current predicament. ''China has helped Clinton save face, I'm sure they will want something in return,'' a US businessman said in Beijing. Although Chen is no longer in jail, he will be on bail for the next eight years and can technically be sent back to prison during that time should his health improve. He has also been deprived of his political rights for four years and will be subject to supervision by the local public security forces until 2006. Armed with new legislation specifically designed to prevent dissidents from speaking out after their release from jail, the authorities will be able to control Chen's every movement and prevent him from engaging in any form of political activity once he returns to Beijing. Chen first became active in the democracy movement in 1976 when he participated in the April 5 Tiananmen Square incident and later went on to edit the influential journal Beijing Spring during the Democracy Wall movement of 1978-79. In 1984, he set up one of China's most important independent think-tanks, the Beijing Social and Economic Research Institute, and organised a wide range of publishing houses and political research units. As the 1989 student protests got underway, Chen and his younger colleague Wang Juntao attempted to mediate between the students and the liberal wing of the Communist Party but fled Beijing after the June 4 massacre. They were eventually arrested in the southern city of Changsha in October 1989 and were later both sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for ''conspiracy to subvert the Government''. Yesterday, human rights groups said the selective release of political prisoners should not be taken as a signal of broad improvement in China's human rights policies, and pointed to those who remain in detention. These include Bao Tong, the top Communist Party official imprisoned after Tiananmen, and Liu Gang, a former student activist now held in a prison in northern Liaoning province. Bao, 62, an economist and former top aide to disgraced Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, is serving a seven-year sentence for ''counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement''. He was transferred a month ago to a hospital in Beijing. More than 100 influential US congressmen are urging Mr Clinton to unconditionally renew MFN. In a letter to be delivered to the White House tomorrow, Democrat and Republican members of the House of Representatives will call on the President to seek other ways of promoting human rights in China.