German ambassador to China dies two weeks into the job

German Ambassador to China Jan Hecker (left) died less than two weeks after taking up his post in Beijing. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Germany's ambassador to China Jan Hecker died suddenly, less than two weeks after taking up his post, the European nation's foreign office said on Monday (Sept 6).

Mr Hecker, 54, a foreign policy adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel, had presented his credentials at China's foreign ministry on Aug 24, the embassy in the Chinese capital told Reuters by social media.

The cause of his death is yet to be confirmed.

"It is with deep sadness and dismay that we learnt of the sudden death of the German ambassador to China," Germany's Federal Foreign Office said on its website. An embassy spokesman declined further comment to Reuters.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin offered condolences when asked about Mr Hecker's death during a regular media briefing.

"We are shocked to learn about the sudden death of Ambassador Hecker, who had been working actively to promote China-Germany relations since assuming his post," he said.

China would provide assistance to Mr Hecker's family and the embassy, he added.

Mr Hecker had appeared "happy and all right" when he hosted an event about German artist Joseph Beuys at his Beijing home last Friday, a guest at the event said.

German and European Union flags flew at half-mast on Monday at the embassy in Beijing.

Mr Hecker had arrived in China on Aug 1, the embassy said, and like all arrivals would have been required to spend time in quarantine.

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