By Zhao Yipu, People’s Daily
Chinese President Xi Jinping “always puts the people at the center of his heart,” said Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in an interview with People’s Daily after attending the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing at the invitation of Xi.
“President Xi is a man of the future, a great statesman and philosopher who has a far-reaching vision and new ideas. He is a bold thinker, a man who cares not about personal power but only about helping his country regain the position of greatness it once had,” Sihamoni said.
Depicting Beijing Winter Olympics as “unforgettable and wonderful in all respects”, Sihamoni, who also attended the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, expressed congratulations to President Xi, the Chinese government and people as well as the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on the success of event.
“The motto of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is ‘Together for a Shared Future’, reflects the common aspiration of the human society to jointly overcome global challenges,” he said.
The friendship between China and Cambodia is deeply rooted in the historical ties between the two people that have developed for over two thousand years and has been sublimated through meticulous care of senior leaders of both countries.
Sihamoni has had many cordial and friendly talks with Xi, among which the one held in November 2020 at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing impressed him the most, according to the Cambodian King.
During that meeting, after hearing Sihamoni had just visited Yan’an, Xi retraced the journey made by late Cambodian King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk to the city 50 years ago. Xi said that trip “carries forward and promotes friendship”, Sihamoni recalled.
“He also called on the two sides to continue to elevate their comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation to new heights,” the Cambodian King added.
Yan’an city in northwest China’s Shaanxi province is a former revolutionary base of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Sihamoni’s trip in Yan’an in 2020 remains fresh in his memory.
During his visit to Liangjiahe village, Yan’an, Sihamoni learned that Xi had spent several years working with local farmers in the village..
“The young Chinese leader then and villagers lived in ‘earth caves’, slept on ‘earth beds’, and did heavy farm work in the village. There was no meat in their diet for months. He gained first-hand experience of rural life,” Sihamoni said.
“Later, Xi led the local residents in production, which gave him the opportunity to better understand the needs of farmers,” Sihamoni added.
Because of the experience, Xi knows what farmers want the most and always regards the people’s interests as his highest concern, according to him.
At the village history museum of Liangjiahe, Sihamoni learned that when he was young, Xi had a simple wish: helping villagers become better-off. And after he left Liangjiahe, Xi has revisited the village for many times.
“He is always concerned about the folks living in rural areas, which touches me deeply,” Sihamoni said.
“The villgers of Liangjiahe are now living a happy life that they used to dream about. And just like in Liangjiahe, more and more people elsewhere in China are seeing their dreams for a better life come true at an incredible speed.” Noting that Liangjiahe village has changed dramatically compared to 50 years ago, Sihamoni believes the village is an example of rural development in China.
In 2021, China realized the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, pointed out Sihamoni, adding that the country will basically achieve socialist modernization by 2035 and build a great modern socialist country in all respects by 2050.
Chinese people often say that true friendship stands out in time of adversity and trials and tribulations test a person’s sense of responsibility. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Xi has firmly supported global solidarity against the pandemic, which was highly appreciated by Sihamoni.
China has not only managed to bring the epidemic situation at home under control, but promised to make its COVID-19 vaccine a global public good. “I highly commend President Xi’s support for global anti- COVID-19 cooperation.” Sihamoni noted.
Among all countries in the world, China has provided the most COVID-19 vaccines for foreign countries. It has provided more than 2.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines for over 120 countries and international organizations. More than 90 percent of the COVID-19 vaccines Cambodia has received are from China.
Xi’s support for global anti-epidemic cooperation represents vivid practice of the idea of a community with a shared future for mankind, according to Sihamoni.
“Building a community with a share future for mankind and promoting the realization of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits are President Xi’s answer to the question of how a fast-developing China can get along with the rest of the world. The answer shows his vision of global governance, which is full of wisdom,” Sihamoni said.
The idea of building a community with a share future for mankind highlights peaceful development and win-win results, which makes it clear that China will not seek hegemony even when it grows in strength and that the Chinese people love peace, he noted.
“Cambodia and China do enjoy a very strong relationship, have maintained high mutual political trust, benefited mutually from their economic ties and coordinated closely in international affairs. The two countries are willing to make joint efforts for greater bilateral achievements to benefit both peoples,” Sihamoni said.
The joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by Xi has also taken root and borne fruits in Cambodia.
For many years, China has been Cambodia’s largest trading partner, largest source of foreign direct investment, and largest provider of development assistance, Sihamoni stressed.
“I hope the two peoples who enjoy brotherly ties will continue consolidating cooperative relationship and promoting regional peace, stability, development, and prosperity,” he said.