Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk on November 6 received the “Friendship of the People’s Republic of China” medal from Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Honouring the achievement, King Norodom Sihamoni sent a congratulatory letter to the Queen Mother.

“Her Majesty, the highest revered Queen of the Khmer nation, has great merits for accompanying the former King Father in promoting the Cambodia-China friendship,” the King wrote.

Prime Minister Hun Sen also wrote a letter dated November 6 to the Queen Mother, saying she was worthy of the medal.

“The Queen Mother received a special medal from His Excellency the president of the People’s Republic of China. The Queen Mother has paved the way for Cambodians to follow the path of happiness, peace and eternity,” he wrote.

Kin Phea, the director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said the role of the Khmer monarchy in Cambodia-China relations is very important.

“The Khmer monarchy seems to be an important symbol for the relationship between the two countries. The awarding of this medal shows the respect and gratitude China has for the Queen Mother, who has always contributed to the improvement of relations between the two nations,” he said.

Phea said the relationship between Cambodia and China centres around four areas – political cooperation, trade relations, cultural factors and relationships between individuals and leaders.

Transparency International Cambodia executive director Pech Pisey said the presentation of the medal to the Queen Mother represents a strengthening of the long-term Sino-Cambodian friendship.

“We know that Cambodia has a long-standing relationship with China, and the role of the King is an important one that is not politically motivated. He plays the role of the head of state and representative of the national spirit,” he said.

Pisey said he wanted the royal family, including the King and the Queen Mother, to use their influence to promote equal relations with other countries.

“Do not think that we are biased towards China. Strengthening the relationship between Cambodia and all countries is necessary and the King and Queen Mother should play a role in strengthening this relationship,” he said.