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Cambodian King Makes First State Visit to China

  • Benjamin Sand

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni is in China on his first official state visit since taking the throne last year. Cambodian leaders are trying to attract foreign investment.

The king arrived Wednesday evening and will meet with Chinese president Hu Jintao and other government leaders during his five-day visit.

Norodom Sihamoni replaced his ailing father as Cambodia's largely ceremonial monarch last October.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabo welcomed the new king to China. He says China will push to strengthen ties with Cambodia.

The visit comes at a critical juncture for Cambodia. After decades of civil war and political isolation, a degree of stability is taking hold.

And now a new coalition government is trying to attract foreign investment and strengthen the country's fragile economy.

"For a post-conflict country like Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the world, it needs to have good friends everywhere and they've looked to other countries to see how to assist economic growth in their own country," explained Verghese Mathews, a researcher at the Singapore Institute for Southeast Asian Studies.

He says Cambodian leaders have been courting Chinese trade and funding for development projects.

The king is traveling with a 50-member delegation, including Cambodia's Minister of Foreign Affairs and other senior government officials.

King Sihamoni is also accompanied by his 82-year-old father.

The ailing Norodom Sihanouk has cancer and is expected to remain in Beijing for medical treatment.

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