BEIJING — Jan Hecker, Germany’s ambassador to China and a former foreign policy adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel, died unexpectedly less than two weeks after taking up his post.
Hecker, 54, presented his credentials to China’s foreign ministry on August 24, according to the embassy in Beijing via social media. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
“I mourn the loss of a highly esteemed, long-standing adviser of deep humanity and exceptional professional expertise,” Merkel said in comments posted on Twitter by her spokesman.
When asked about the death, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin in Beijing also expressed condolences.
“We are shocked to learn of the sudden death of Ambassador Hecker, who has been actively working to promote China–Germany relations since taking office,” he said at a regular media briefing.
Hecker’s family and the embassy would receive assistance from China, he said.
According to a guest at the event, Hecker appeared “happy and all right” when he hosted an event about the German artist Joseph Beuys at his Beijing home last Friday.
The German and European Union flags were flown at half-mast at the German embassy in Beijing on Monday.
According to the embassy, Hecker arrived in China on August 1 and, like all new arrivals, would have been required to spend time in quarantine as a coronavirus precaution.