5 January 2015

Sihanouk's Residence in Beijing

This 2001 mail to France with China Post Beijing Zhengyi Road branch postage meter is from the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk's secretariat in the capital of PR China.  The mail content is a private correspondence of the former Cambodian monarch.

The King Father's Beijing residence was located in #15 Dong Jiao Min Xiang (return address shown on the top left corner of the cover).  Dong Jiao Min Xiang is a quiet tree lined street near the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, the street and the nearby area has been an embassy district since the Ming dynasty in Chinese history (1368-1644).  In 1861 the French were granted a Manchu prince's palace there to be their embassy.  The palace compound was rebuilt in early 1900s as #15 Dong Jiao Min Xiang where continued to serve as the French Embassy until WWII.

General Lon Nol launched a successful coup d'├ętat in March 1970, consequently the ancient Cambodian monarchy was overthrown.  This made the King Father go into exile for the next three decades spending 2/3 of his time in the Chinese capital and the rest in Pyongyang of North Korea until he returned to Cambodia in 1991.

When staying In Pyongyang, the King Father resided at the Changsuwon Palace which Kim Il-Sung built for him in 1974; when In Beijing, the old French Embassy compound was where he called home.  The late Chinese premier Chou En-lai renovated the compound in 1970 and turned it into a luxurious residence for the King Father's comfort.  The residence includes a swimming pool and a tennis court, an entertainment club, a gymnasium, and a large mansion as the living quarters.

Entrance of #15 Dong Jiao Min Xiang. (courtesy: China News)

Main Mansion of  #15 Dong Jiao Min Xiang.  (courtesy: Jing Bao)

The compound remained the King Father's official residence in Beijing after he was crowned again in 1993 till he passed away in 2012.

Dong Jiao Min Xiang literally means "the east section of Diplomats Lane".  Yes, there is a west section of the street, the two sections are divided by the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall.  West section was a banking district in the early 20th century.

No comments:

Post a Comment