Jan Hecker, Germany’s ambassador to China, on Monday had died suddenly less than two weeks after taking up his post.

The Foreign Ministry announced Jan Hecker’s “sudden death” in a short statement in the early hours of Monday.

The death of Jan Hecker, a former senior adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel, was not linked to his role, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The death was announced in a brief Foreign Ministry statement that gave no details about where or when Jan Hecker died, nor did it specify a cause of death.

“There are no indications that Ambassador Hecker’s death is connected to his political function,” Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reiterated this, telling DPA news agency: “Based on the circumstances of the death, we have no indications that Jan Hecker’s passing was related in any way at all to his professional role as German ambassador in Beijing.”

What to know about Jan Hecker?

According to his biography on the Foreign Ministry website, Hecker was married and had three children when he became ambassador in August.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, he arrived in China on August 1 and presented his credentials on August 24.

Jan Hecker, like all new arrivals in China, would have been required to spend time in quarantine as a coronavirus precaution, according to Reuters.

Jan Hecker, a former Interior Ministry official who later became a judge at Germany’s Federal Administrative Court, joined the chancellery in 2015 as the head of a unit that coordinates refugee policy.

During Europe’s refugee crisis, he played a key role in realizing Merkel’s plans to accept one million asylum seekers into Germany.

In 2017, he was appointed as Merkel’s foreign policy adviser, a powerful position with a low public profile.

A statement of Chancellor Angela Merkel

Merkel said in a statement that Hecker’s death ‘shocks me deeply’.

“I am mourning an esteemed long-time adviser with deep humanity and outstanding expertise,” the chancellor said.

“I think with gratitude of our work together and am happy to have been so closely tied to him for years. My deepest sympathy goes out to his wife, his children and his other loved ones in their immeasurable grief”.

The Chinese government also offered its condolences and said it would provide assistance to Hecker’s family and the embassy.

‘We are shocked to learn of this sudden death of Ambassador Jan Hecker, who had been working actively to promote China-Germany relations since assuming his post,’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing in Beijing.

Deputy ambassador Frank Ruckert, will take over ambassadorial duties for the time being, DW reported.

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