On this day... July 19th


Zhou Enlai and Norodom Sihanouk during the latter's first visit to China.

On this day in 1958, the People’s Republic of China formally established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In April 1955, Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia met Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai at the Bandung Conference held in Indonesia, where the two men developed a liking for each other. During the 1950s and 60s, Zhou and CCP Chairman Liu Shaoqi frequently led delegations to Cambodia and Sihanouk visited China six times. On July 17th, 1958, Cambodia held a Cabinet meeting in which it decided to give up its "neutral" policy towards the Two Chinas question and recognize the PRC as the only legitimate government of China. On July 18th, Sihanouk sent a letter to Zhou to propose the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations. The day after receiving the letter, July 19th, Zhou replied to Sihanouk giving his consent to the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Since the 1990s, relations between two countries entered a new stage of development. The cooperation between the two countries in economy, culture and public health has been expanding rapidly. Friendly and co-operative relations in the fields of politics, economy, trade, culture, education and military affairs have been continuously strengthened, and the two countries’ coordination on international and regional issues has been steadily maintained. Because of the two countries’ extremely close ties, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has called China Cambodia's "most trustworthy friend.”

However, the Sino-Cambodian relations are not without obstacles. Many Cambodians still resent the Chinese for supporting Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, perpetrators of the infamous Cambodian genocide, in the 1970s. Chinese dominance in the Cambodian economy carries some risk factors as it compromises Cambodia’s diplomatic independence, and the influx of investment and immigrants from China has also fueled anti-Chinese sentiment, however beneficial it may be.

On April 2006, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Cambodia and the two sides issued a Joint Communique announcing the establishment of a “comprehensive cooperative partnership”. 2008 was the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Cambodia, celebrated on both sides.

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