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German ambassador to China dies two months into the occupation

‘We are shocked to discover about the unexpected death of Ambassador Hecker,’ claimed a Chinese international ministry spokesperson

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BEIJING — Germany’s ambassador to China Jan Hecker, a shut confidant of Chancellor Angela Merkel, died instantly, considerably less than two weeks immediately after having up his write-up, the European nation’s foreign office claimed on Monday.

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Hecker, 54, experienced offered his credentials at China’s overseas ministry on Aug. 24, the embassy in the Chinese capital explained to Reuters by social media.

The induce of demise had nevertheless to be confirmed.

“I mourn for a highly regarded extended-time adviser, with a deep humanity and amazing competence,” Merkel stated in an emailed assertion Monday in Berlin. “Jan Hecker’s dying deeply shocks me,” she included. “I feel of our perform jointly with excellent gratitude and am content to have been so closely involved with him for several years.”

The 54-year-aged belonged to a compact circle of Merkel’s near advisers, getting attained her trust in the course of the refugee disaster of 2015. Two several years later on, he turned her top foreign coverage adviser and was present at her conference with U.S. President Joe Biden at the Group of Seven summit in Cornwall in June.

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Merkel, who will step down right after this month’s election, despatched Hecker as ambassador to China to attempt to maintain her friendly relations with Beijing, according to a person with knowledge of her imagining who questioned not to be discovered since the data is personal.

An embassy spokesman declined further more remark to Reuters.

Chinese overseas ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin supplied condolences when requested about Hecker’s death in the course of a frequent media briefing.

“We are stunned to discover about the unexpected demise of Ambassador Hecker, who experienced been performing actively to endorse China-Germany relations due to the fact assuming his post,” he said.

China would offer help to Hecker’s family members and the embassy, he extra.

Hecker experienced appeared “happy and all right” when he hosted an function about German artist Joseph Beuys at his Beijing dwelling previous Friday, a guest at the celebration said.

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

Hecker experienced arrived in China on Aug. 1, the embassy reported, and like all arrivals would have been expected to devote time in quarantine.

With data files from Bloomberg Information

(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian Modifying by Christian Schmollinger and Clarence Fernandez)