China and Cambodia cooperating to protect heritage
By Sun Qingzhao
Cultural exchanges and cooperation between Cambodia and China have been developing rapidly since the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative.
China has donated millions of dollars to help with the restoration of Angkor Wat, shouldering more responsibility for world heritage protection.
Cambodia’s Angkor Wat was listed as a World Heritage site in 1992 and China began the restoration in 2000.
Most of the 98 temples were completed by 2013.
Liu Jiang is from the Chinese restoration team. He says the restoration work at the Chau Say Tevoda Temple has been praised by the Cambodian side. Cambodia hopes they can do more restoration work for other historic sites of Angkor Wat in the future.
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Cambodian Council of Ministers, says the successful restoration of the Chau Say Tevoda Temple shows that China is not only influential in the economic and political field, but also in the cultural fields.
Now, the World Heritage Site is a popular destination for Chinese tourists.
So far, China has overtaken Vietnam to become the largest source of tourists to Cambodia.
Cambodia launched a "China Ready" strategy in 2016, with the aim of attracting more Chinese tourists.
The country received about 1 million Chinese tourists last year, and it aims to double the number of Chinese tourists to 2 million by 2020.
Many tourists say culture is their reason for visiting Cambodia.
A show called the "Smile of Angkor", which was created by both Chinese and Cambodian artists, has been on show since 2010 in Cambodia. It was sponsored by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and the Cambodian Ministry of Culture.
So far, it has been performed more than 1,000 times, and seen by over a million audience members.