German Ambassador to China Suddenly Dies

Tuesday, 7 September, 2021 - 00:54
He was a foreign policy advisor to German chancellor Angela Merkel and was seen as an important figure in the post-Merkel era.

Germany’s ambassador to China and Angela Merkel’s former foreign policy advisor, Jan Hecker, has died suddenly less than two weeks after being posted to Beijing.

He was 54.

On the 24th of August, Hecker officially began his posting in Beijing after arriving earlier with his wife and three children.

The cause of death is yet to be revealed.

The German embassy’s website mourned its ambassador in a statement, stating “We are deeply saddened and shocked to learn of the sudden death of the German ambassador to China. Our hearts are with his family and his friends and colleagues at this time.”

Hecker rose to prominence after becoming a judge at Germany’s federal administrative court between 2011 and 2015, eventually finding his way into diplomacy, working with Merkel’s chancellery later that year. He was in charge of coordinating refugee policy during the European migrant crisis before being appointed in 2017 as head of the foreign, security, and development policy department.

German chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her shock at her former adviser’s death, articulating she was "profoundly shaken by Jan Hecker’s death.”

The two were close in political circles, with Hecker being one of the chancellor’s top advisers on foreign policy, becoming a key player in Merkel’s promise of Wir schaffen das (We will manage) due to his high organizational skills.

His Beijing posting was seen as a move by Merkel to retain key influence in Germany’s foreign policy as she prepares to step down later this year.