Norodom Sihanouk

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Norodom Sihanouk, former King of Cambodia.

Norodom Sihanouk (诺罗敦•西哈努克) was born in Phnom Penh on Oct. 31, 1922. He was the son of King Norodom Suramarit. As the former King of Cambodia, he held many positions in his life and is considered to be a key figure in Cambodian politics for over six decades. He is also an old friend of China and made effort to develop and strengthen Cambodia-China relations.

One month after China and Cambodia established diplomatic relations in July, 1958, Sihanouk led a delegation to visit China. He visited several provinces across the country, accompanied by Premier Zhou Enlai. At the same time, China launched an aid project to Cambodia.

In April 1960, Sihanouk's father, King Norodom Suramarit died. Premier Zhou Enlai, on behalf of the Chinese government, went to Phnom Pehn to attend Suramarit's funeral. In December, Sihanouk, in his capacity as head of state paid a visit in Beijing with his wife, Princess Monineath. The two sides signed the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Non-Aggression.

On March 19, 1970, while Sihanouk was out of the country travelling, Prime Minister Lon Nol staged a coup, and deposed Sihanouk as head of state. China's Premier Zhou Enlai welcomed exiled Sihanouk to China and said the Chinese government would never recognize Lon Nol's regime.

In 1975, Lon Nol stepped down, Sihanouk was allowed back in Cambodia in August. After that, he made effort to strenthen Sino-Cambodian relations and visited China many times. He also donated to China's areas affected by natural disaster. He gradually became the symbolic icon of the Chinese-Cambodian friendship.

The former King and Queen had been invited by China to many major events.

On April 30th, 1999, Sihanouk and his wife attended the opening ceremony of China's Kunming International Gardening Show. He also attended several activities of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

On the 60th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China which was on Oct. 1, 2009, Sihanouk and his wife were invited to many celebration activities.

Sihanouk has walked up the Tian An Men Gate Tower with Chinese leaders six times, which is the most compared with other foreign heads of state.

Norodom Sihanouk died of natural cause at the age of 90 in on Oct. 15, 2012. The coffin containing his body returned to his homeland on Oct. 18 and was welcomed by hundreds of thousands of mourners who packed tree-lined roads in capital Phnom Penh ahead of the royal funeral.