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Jan Hecker

Germany's ambassador to China Jan Hecker dies suddenly days after taking office


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Published on September 15, 2021 5:05 AM
Germany's ambassador to China Jan Hecker – a confidant of Chancellor Angela Merkel – has died only a few days after taking up his post, Berlin's foreign office said on Monday (Sept 6).

"It is with deep sadness and dismay that we learned of the sudden death of the German ambassador to China, Professor Dr Jan Hecker. Our thoughts at this moment are with the family and the people who were close to him," it said. The brief statement did not elaborate. Hecker, 54, was married with three children.

He appeared well on Friday night, when he hosted a cultural event at Germany's embassy in Beijing highlighting the work of German artist Joseph Bueys. He spent the evening talking to many of the guests, including members of the China Academy of Fine Arts and journalists.

China's foreign ministry expressed condolences over Hecker's death. Spokesman Wang Wenbin said Hecker had "actively promoted bilateral relations" after taking the new position.

"We are ready to offer as many conveniences as possible for Mr Hecker's family and the German embassy on follow-up issues," he said.

The German and European Union flags flew at half mast at...


Jan Hecker

Jan Hecker was a German lawyer and diplomat. He was an advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a judge at the Federal Administrative Court, as well as an adjunct professor at the European University Viadrina. He died shortly after taking office as German ambassador to the People's Republic of China.


Hecker attended schools in Flensburg, Kiel, Wilhelmshaven and Oslo, Norway, achieving the abitur in Flensburg in 1989. He studied law and political science in Freiburg, Grenoble and Göttingen from 1988 to 1994, completing with an MA degree in 1994. He passed the second legal state exam in Berlin in 1996, followed by post-graduate studies at the University of Cambridge where he obtained a Master of Laws degree in 1987. He obtained his doctorate in law in 1997 on the subject of European integration as a constitutional problem in France at the University of Göttingen.

He was employed by the law firms Hengeler Mueller and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, but professional curiosity drew him away just two years later. Hecker joined the Federal Ministry of the Interior at the end of 1999. During his time at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, he was seconded to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution for two years, among other things.

In 2011 Hecker was appointed a judge at the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. In 2015 he was brought to Berlin as an advisor to chancellor Merkel. He became a confidant of Merkel, especially influencing her foreign policy.

Hecker became ambassador to the People's Republic of China at the end of August 2021. He was expected to continue Merkel's policy of maintaining a balanced, but friendly relationship with the People's Republic of China. He died only a few days after taking office at the age of 54, having just completed the mandatory two weeks COVID-19 quarantine. German foreign minister Heiko Maas has stated that 'Due to the circumstances of his death, we have no evidence that Jan Hecker's death is in any way related to his official function as German ambassador in Beijing'.

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