Some knowledge on Chinese diplomatic covers is needed to understand the 2003 45th anniversary of Sino-Cambodian diplomatic ties issue.
China National Philatelic Corporation (CNPC) is the national philatelic agency of China, it produces and wholesales Chinese postage stamps, covers and other philatelic products.
In 1999, CNPC and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Philatelic Association started a series of commemorative covers called "wei jiao feng", literally means diplomatic covers, for celebrating Chinese diplomatic ties anniversaries and other diplomatic events. More than 180 issues are in the series now, each with 50,000 serial numbered print run.
Other than releasing diplomatic covers, in some cases China also print commemorative stamps as a gift to countries which she celebrates diplomatic ties annviersary with. Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Morocco are just some of the many beneficiaries.
In 2003, the 133rd cover in the series was dedicated to the 45th anniversary of Sino-Cambodian diplomatic ties (WJ-133). In addition 300,000 two-stamp sets were printed in Beijing for Cambodia, they show the two countries' national monuments in a se-tenant way:
A stamp from the set is on this commercial cover to Hongkong :
The standard format of diplomatic covers is one standard stamp and a commemorative postmark from each country. The Cambodian stamp used on the standard version is the Angkor Wat one.
Nevertheless, an unknown amount of covers has the Great Wall stamp instead. Both versions were distributed by the CNPC.
On top of the 50,000 regular production, some thousand extra covers (it is either 4000 or 6000, I cannnot remember the exact amount, reference lost when my old hard disk crashed last year) were made for Cambodia to distribute in Phnom Penh. They are almost the same as those sold in China, except the full set of Cambodia stamps is used and on the back no print run serial numbers added.
The print run serial number (bottom left corner) is absent on the Cambodia sold cover (lower one):
Please click here for part II: "45th Anniv of Sino-Cambodian Diplomatic Ties (II)"