News / Asia

China Considered Cambodian King Key Ally

Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk stands beside flowers given by the Chinese government during a meeting with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo (not seen) in Beijing, October 30, 2006.
Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk stands beside flowers given by the Chinese government during a meeting with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo (not seen) in Beijing, October 30, 2006.
VOA News
The death of Cambodia’s former king, Norodom Sihanouk, has drawn high-profile condolences and memorials from top Chinese officials. 

China’s foreign ministry called Sihanouk a “great friend of the Chinese people,” and on state television, Chinese officials praised ties with the former king.  Several high-ranking Chinese leaders, including Vice President Xi Jinping, paid condolences to Sihanouk's widow in China's capital, where Sihanouk had been seeking medical treatment since January.

Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk

  • Born in 1922, educated in Saigon and Paris
  • Came to the throne in 1941
  • Founded Non-Aligned Movement
  • Was briefly overthrown during Vietnam War and fled to China
  • Aligned with Khmer Rouge to oppose Vietnam's influence in Cambodia
  • Returned from exile in 1991 and to the throne in 1993
  • Abdicated to his son, Norodom Sihamoni, in 2004
  • Had been receiving medical treatment in China since January, 2012
China has close political and financial ties to Cambodia, and International Relations Professor Ren Xiao of Shanghai's Fudan University said the former king was an important part of that relationship.  

“When he was in difficulty, and in danger, China helped him and continued to consider him leader of Cambodia” said Ren Xiao.

Sihanouk, whose political life in Cambodia and in exile spanned almost six decades, first visited China in 1956.  Chinese state media Xinhua says at that time he developed personal relationships with China's leaders, including the then premier Zhou Enlai and communist leader Mao Zedong.

In 1970, after a military coup, Sihanouk flew to Beijing, where Mao Zedong offered his alliance against the United States.  

“China was opposed to the U.S. bringing war to Vietnam, and also at that time China and the U.S. were enemies in the cold war.  From the political perspective we supported Sihanouk to be king, and we opposed to the government of Lon Nol,” said Ren. “Very naturally, we had a solid friendship [with Sihanouk].”

State media devoted much of their coverage Monday to the former king's death, and reported how Sihanouk thought of China as his second home.

  • Mourners offer prayers to the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, January 31, 2013.
  • The royal funeral convoys are prepared for late former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, January 31, 2013.
  • Buddhist monks offer prayers to late former King Norodom Sihanouk ahead of his cremation in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, January 26, 2013.
  • Cambodian honor guards welcome the body of the late former King Norodom Sihanouk at Phnom Penh International Airport, October 17, 2012. (Heng Reaksmey/VOA)
  • Bou Kry, one of Cambodia's two Buddhist patriarchs, sits in a royal truck leading the procession that carries the coffin and body of late former King Norodom Sihanouk from the airport to the Royal Palace.(Heng Reaksmey/VOA)
  • A Buddhist monk holds flowers as he joins others waiting for the coffin of the former king Norodom Sihanouk to arrive at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh October 17, 2012.
  • Thousands of mourners gather at the gates of the Royal Palace minutes after the coffin of former king Norodom Sihanouk arrived in Phnom Penh October 17, 2012.
  • Cambodian royal officers carry the coffin of former king Norodom Sihanouk on a royal truck during its arrival at Phnom Penh international airport October 17, 2012.
  • Thousands of mourners pray at the gates of the Royal Palace after the coffin of former king Norodom Sihanouk entered in Phnom Penh October 17, 2012.
  • People pray as they see the coffin of former king Norodom Sihanouk on a royal truck along a street in Phnom Penh October 17, 2012.
  • Mourners burn incense and offer prayers at the Royal Palace displaying a portrait of their former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, October 17, 2012.

City University International Relations Professor Mark Thompson said China is using its ties with Sihanouk, a popular father figure in Cambodia, to pursue its political goals.

“They want to associate themselves with people like Sihanouk who fascinatingly, despite all the twists and turns in his political career, has emerged relatively unscathed.  He has this sort of Teflon image, that not much sticks to him in terms of what he did in the past such as for example aligning with the Khmer Rouge,” said Thompson.  “By associating themselves with that they are hoping to rip some of the social capital that comes out of that.”

China and Cambodia have cultivated increasingly warm relations in recent years.  In 2011 China's investment in Cambodia was more than 10 times that of the United States, and also accounted for more than double the total investment of all neighboring ASEAN countries.

On the diplomatic front, China has relied on Cambodia's support in its territorial disputes in the South China Sea.  At this year's ASEAN summit, Cambodia stalled negotiations over the most recent naval stand-off between China and the Philippines, effectively siding with its northern neighbor.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
October 16, 2012 1:48 AM
Sorry for your Cambodia lost your love king. May God bless you all.

In Response

by: Kk
October 26, 2012 5:45 AM
The sad thing is he died with secrets to his grave. If he really love Cambodia, why is he always running to China? He should of spoke up for his people!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid