King Norodom Sihamoni is planning to depart for China on February 3 to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games 2022 in Beijing, which are scheduled to begin on February 4, and will return on February 5.

“During my absence, [Senate president Say Chhum] will assume his role as acting head of state,” the King’s letter reads.

Speaking to the media on January 25, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated that China and Cambodia have a long-standing friendship and that Cambodia firmly supports China’s hosting of the Winter Olympics this year.

“His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni is an old friend of the Chinese people. We welcome His Majesty to China to witness the historical occasion when Beijing becomes the first city to ever host both the summer and winter versions of the Olympic Games,” he said.

The 2022 Olympic Winter Games will run from February 4-14 after the opening ceremonies take place at Beijing’s National Stadium – also known as the Bird’s Nest for its innovative architectural design.

Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian said in his Chinese New Year message on February 1 that the Chinese-Cambodian community has a shared future that is buttressed by mutual trust and fruitful cooperation that will keep growing from strength to strength.

He said China is the strategic backstop for Cambodia’s Covid-19 vaccine supply while also providing an ever growing market for Cambodian agricultural products as the foremost trading partner of Cambodia with trade in goods topping $10 billion ahead of scheduled growth projections.

The past year also saw the official launch of the Morodok Techo National Stadium and further progress on major “Belt and Road” infrastructure development projects such as the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway and the new Siem Reap International Airport, he said.

Wang said the coming year held great promise for the further growth of China-Cambodia relations.

He noted that there was much the two countries could still do to harness even greater opportunities with the newly enacted Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the China-Cambodia Free Trade Agreement, both of which will serve to enhance trade ties, including agricultural produce in particular, and to upgrade bilateral cooperation on Covid-19 prevention and control, infrastructure and other industrial cooperation.

“China staunchly supports Cambodia’s efforts in its leadership role after assuming the chairmanship of ASEAN and supports and encourages Cambodia in taking a bigger role in regional and international affairs and we fully respect the view of ASEAN centrality in regional architecture,” he said.