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German ambassador to China Jan Hecker has died, barely two weeks into the job, Hecker, 54, a foreign policy advisor to Chancellor Angela Merkel, had just taken up his post on Aug. 24, the embassy in the Chinese capital said in a posting on its social media Wechat account. The cause of death has yet to be confirmed. “It is with deep sadness and dismay that we learned 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 spokesperson Wang Wenbin offered condolences when asked about 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 Hecker's family and the embassy, he added.
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 September 6, at the embassy in Beijing. 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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