Norodom Sihanouk oversaw independence, genocide, civil war and a gradual move towards stability
Norodom Sihanouk, the former Cambodian king who was a key figure through decades of upheaval, has died.
The former king died at a hospital in the Chinese capital, Beijing, after having a heart attack. He had been in poor health for several years, reports the BBC.
Sihanouk, who was 89, came to the throne in 1941 and led Cambodia to independence from France in 1953.
Despite long periods of exile and his abdication in 2004 due to ill health, he remained an influential figure.
Sihanouk abdicated in 2004 in favour of his son, King Norodom Sihamoni.
"His death was a great loss to Cambodia," said his assistant and relative Prince Sisowath Thomico. "King Sihanouk did not belong to his family, he belonged to Cambodia and to history."
His body is expected to be returned to Cambodia for an official funeral at the royal palace in Phnom Penh. King Sihamoni is flying to Beijing to accompany the late king home, a Cambodian government spokesman said.
A statement from China's foreign ministry hailed Sihanouk as a "great friend of the Chinese people".
Born in 1922, Sihanouk was the eldest son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Kossamak.