Phnom Penh, 29 August 2023 (TDI): On August 28th, a cultural evening was held at the Diamond Island Opera House to commemorate the 65th anniversary of China-Cambodia diplomatic ties in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

At the event, artists from China’s Yunnan Province joined forces with their Cambodian counterparts to showcase the enduring friendship between the two nations.

“Sharing the same river water, boundless affection between us.” The meandering Lancang-Mekong River, spanning thousands of kilometers, originates from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China, passes through Yunnan, and flows southward through Cambodia.

The first chapter of the event began with Chinese dancers gracefully performing to the folk song “Flowing Water of the Small River” composed in Dali, Yunnan, alongside the lyrics “The little river flows, so clear and tranquil…” Following the dance, Chinese and Cambodian singers presented a duet titled “Drinking the Same River Water.”

Sino-Cambodian Artists celebrate diplomatic ties
The Chinese dance Little River Flowing Water

“As the ever-flowing river surges over high mountains and valleys, traverses geographical boundaries, and gallops between mountains and plains, both sides of the river are adorned with abundant flowers and lush trees, with golden waves of wheat stretching for miles. This is the tree of deep-rooted and flourishing friendship between China and Cambodia, and it blossoms into a more vibrant bond.”

Qian Xuetao, the chief director of the event, stated that the first chapter of the evening was titled “Drinking the Same River Water,” highlighting the enduring and sincere friendship between China and Cambodia, much like the uninterrupted flow of the Lancang-Mekong River.

This year marks the 65th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between China and Cambodia. The event opens a new chapter with the theme “Building a Close Family Together,” presenting performances such as the Cambodian dance “Peacock Dance,” excerpts from the Chinese Peking Opera “Ode to the Pear Blossom,” solo performances on the hulusi flute with pieces like “Deep in the Bamboo Grove” and “There’s Only One Khmer,” and a dance titled “Three Beats of Drums Bring Happiness.”

These programs convey the spirit of mutual respect, support, equal exchange, collaborative win-win, openness, and inclusivity that have characterized the relationship between China and Cambodia since establishing diplomatic ties. This relationship has transformed into a shared destiny where both countries face joys and challenges, creating an unbreakable bond.

“The Peacock Dance holds a special place in Cambodia, only performed during the most important occasions,” says Cambodian dancer San Sisay. The peacock symbolizes beauty and purity. “Tonight’s performance of the Peacock Dance expresses the continuous development and elevation of the friendly and cooperative relationship between Cambodia and China since the establishment of diplomatic ties, marked by mutual trust and sincere collaboration.”

Sino-Cambodian Artists celebrate diplomatic ties
Peacock Dance

The hulusi, crafted from natural gourds, produces a unique and rustic sound. This traditional Chinese instrument is similar in tone and culture to the traditional instrument of the Khmer people of Cambodia. Chinese traditional musician Xie Jun told reporters that there’s a saying in China, “A distant relative is not as good as a close neighbor,” highlighting the value of good neighboring relationships. Playing the hulusi to perform “There’s Only One Khmer” is a way to convey the message that China and Cambodia are not just good neighbors and old friends, but also “ironclad” brothers.

This year also marks the tenth anniversary of China’s proposal of the “Belt and Road” initiative. The theme of the third chapter of the event is “Sharing the Journey,” featuring Chinese songs and dances such as “Blessing,” dances like “Seaweed Tune” and “Floral Waist Quick Tune,” Cambodian dances, and a duet by Chinese and Cambodian male and female singers titled “Golden Promise.” These performances narrate the ancient Silk Road’s journey from the depths of history into the vibrant and lively present.

Lisuo Ran (phonetic transcription) is a Cambodian audience member and a Chinese translator. He told reporters, “The Belt and Road Initiative has brought high-speed highways, new ports, and new airports to Cambodia. The transportation situation in Cambodia has greatly improved. Chinese companies are also involved in cooperation in areas such as electricity and energy in Cambodia, providing a large number of job opportunities for local people.”

Chen Biao, a Cambodian overseas Chinese, has been doing business in Phnom Penh for exactly ten years this year. A decade ago, he and his partners brought Chinese video production technology to Phnom Penh to provide services for local government and business internet promotion. “Sino-Cambodian trade continues to expand, and interconnectivity continues to improve. This has increased the demand for mutual promotion and introduction in the field of new media on the internet, and has also brought more entrepreneurial opportunities for young people in both countries.”

Over the past decade, the economic and trade relationship between the two countries has reached new heights with the development of joint “Belt and Road” cooperation projects between China and Cambodia. China has become Cambodia’s largest source of foreign direct investment and has maintained its position as Cambodia’s top trading partner for eleven consecutive years.

“As the foundation of a nation lies in the friendship between its people,” the evening event hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia, the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and the Yunnan Provincial People’s Government of China, organized by the Information Office and Foreign Affairs Office of the Yunnan Provincial People’s Government, presented a captivating performance for over 2500 attendees. The event showcased a fusion of “Chinese traditional cultural charm, Yunnan’s ethnic characteristics, and the integration of Chinese-Cambodian cultural and artistic elements.”

This event once again enhanced cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the two countries, deepening the connection and friendship between the two people.