Beijing / Berlin (dpa) – Shortly after taking office in Beijing, Germany’s new Ambassador to China, Jan Hecker, passed away suddenly. The Foreign Office announced in Berlin on Monday morning.
Before occupying the important diplomatic post in the Chinese capital, the 54-year-old was foreign policy adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). The circumstances of his death were initially unclear.
“It is with deep sadness and dismay that we are greeted by the sudden death of the German Ambassador to China, the experienced Professor Dr. Jan Hecker,” read the message from the Foreign Ministry. “At this time, our thoughts are with his family and those who were close to him.” Born in Kiel, he was married and the father of three children. He had only taken up his post in August.
I just started work
After arriving in Beijing, the top diplomat and his family first went through the usual quarantine in China due to the corona pandemic. Hecker then turned in his credentials in Beijing at the end of August and began to work regularly.
“What sad and shocking news”, reacted a senior official of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the death of the new ambassador. An important representative of a German company who had just met him said: “Tragic. He was such a smart and reserved man. A good listener. “
Prior to his posting to China, Hecker had been head of the Federal Chancellery’s Foreign Affairs, Security and Development Department since 2017, making him a close confidant of the Chancellor. He accompanied Merkel on her travels.
The lawyer and political scientist worked as a judge at the Federal Administrative Court from 2011 to 2015, after having worked at the Federal Ministry of the Interior from 1999 to 2011.
In 2015, Hecker became head of the then newly created Refugee Policy Coordination Team, and during the refugee crisis he was largely responsible for implementing the Chancellor’s pledge “We can do it “. With this, Hecker moved to the center of government policy on Merkel’s side.
Not a classic career
He was the first foreign policy adviser to the Chancellor who did not follow the classic diplomatic career, and he was considered an excellent foreign policy climber. After the legislative elections and the end of Merkel’s chancellery, observers said, Hecker should ensure the continuity of the difficult relations with the emerging great power China.
Representatives of the Chinese Foreign Ministry expressly welcomed his appointment and stressed his closeness to the Chancellor, who is adopting a more cautious attitude in the face of growing tensions between Europe and China.
German diplomats in Beijing declined to comment on the circumstances of the death and only referred to the Foreign Ministry. Hecker’s former representative, envoy Frank Rückert, is now temporarily assuming the role of ambassador.