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Chinese expats mark Lunar New Year in Kingdom

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Members of a dragon dance troupe perform in front of Cambodiana hotel in Phnom Penh ahead of the Lunar New Year. KT/Siv Channa

The Lunar New Year is celebrated grandly not only in China but by the Chinese diaspora globally, including those in Cambodia. It is a time when people go back to their hometowns or countries for reunions with families.

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Those unable to do so, such as  Andy Long, 35, an expatriate in Phnom Penh celebrating the festival, also known as Chinese New Year, with friends.

Mr Long on Tuesday invited his friends over for dinner in his apartment in Boeung Keng Kang commune to celebrate the new year which, falls on Saturday.

“It’s not compulsory to return home to observe the new year, so I invited my friends to my place where we had a feast to commorate the new year,” the businessman from China’s Nanning city said yesterday during a street interview in the commune.

“We use colourful decorations, especially ones in red because red represents good luck and happiness. We also honour our ancestors by offering fruits, tea, wine, noodles, spring noodles and many other dishes in order to receive blessings,” said James Fan, 32, a sales manager, who was with Long. “Sometimes we gather at Chinese associations […] to celebrate, which gives us the opportunity to meet up with friends and make new ones.”

This year’s Lunar New Year will be held over three days starting Saturday.

Cambodians of Chinese descent mark the festival by holding on to a traditional belief that houses must be cleaned before the start of the festivities, sweeping away any bad luck from the previous year.

Heng Samnang, a villager from Chbar Ampov district in Phnom Penh, said he has been celebrating Chinese New Year ever since he married his wife, who is a Chinese-Cambodian, 20 years ago.

“I always help my wife decorate our home because we believe the celebration brings good luck, happiness and prosperity to our family. We hope the spirits receive our offerings and bless us.” he said.

In a recent report, the Chinese Association in Cambodia said there are about 700,000 Chinese Cambodians in the Kingdom.

People shop ahead of the Lunar New Year celebration. KT/Siv Channa

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2020 is the year of the metal rat.

Chang Hanglong, a well-known Feng Shui expert, or fortuneteller, said yesterday those born in the year of the goat will have good luck this year, noting that those born in the year of the monkey must be careful and avoid bad luck.

“Anyone born in the year of monkey must be cautious as they are prone to traffic accidents,” he said. “It’s a good year for those born in the year of cow, rabbit, snake, monkey and rooster, who wish to get married.”

Deputy prime minister Hor Namhong on Tuesday said China’s economic development has contributed towards safeguarding peace and driving global economic growth.

Mr Namhong said he was confident that cooperation between China and countries around the world will be closer this year, particularly under the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Chinese Ambassador Wang Wentian said at the event that the cultural performance was a good opportunity for Cambodians to better understand Chinese culture and civilisation.

“I hope that this show will not only let you experience our wonderful culture, but also know more about the Chinese Spring Festival,” he said.

“I hope all Chinese-Cambodians and countrymen enjoy the new year and have a happy family reunion,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said in his message to welcome the Chinese New Year. He called on people of both nations to strengthen bilateral ties and solidarity.

Due to safety concerns, City Hall has announced a ban on the use of fireworks or other explosives without a permit during the celebrations.

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