In the tree-lined Dong Jiao Min Alley in Beijing’s former Legation Quarter, across the street from the St Michael’s Church, stands a gated compound watched over by a pair of Chinese imperial guardian lions.
The building, which housed French diplomats until the end of the Qing dynasty and monarchy in 1911, is exclusively reserved for two royal
guests of the Chinese Communist Party: Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and queen mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk.
The two Cambodian royals are regular visitors to Beijing, almost de facto residents. Their trips, which take place at least twice a year, feature a meeting or even banquet with the upper echelons of the party, including President Xi Jinping.