China's Ambassador to Israel Du Wei
China's Ambassador to Israel Du Wei attends a briefing in his previous post in Ukraine. (photo: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

Chinese Ambassador to Israel Du Wei was found dead in his Herzliya home on Sunday morning, a Foreign Ministry official confirmed.

The Israel Police have launched an investigation into his death. Magen David Adom emergency services said the cause of death appears to be a cardiac episode, as the envoy was found dead in his bed by the staff at his residence. No signs of foul play were found at the scene, a source close to the investigation said.

The 58-year-old envoy arrived in Israel in February. He had served as the Chinese ambassador to Ukraine prior to receiving his appointment to Israel.

Foreign Ministry Director Yuval Rotem spoke with China’s Deputy Ambassador Dai Yuming and expressed Israel’s condolences. He reassured Dai that Jerusalem will help the Chinese Embassy with anything they may need at this difficult time.

Wei is survived by his wife and a son. The two were not with him in Israel.

On Friday, the Chinese Embassy in Israel responded to criticism voiced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Israel last week, calling his remarks that China had concealed information about the coronavirus outbreak from the world “absurd.”

The spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy to Israel, Wang Yongjun, penned an article in The Jerusalem Post over the weekend saying “China-Israel cooperation is win-win in nature.”

In response to Pompeo’s criticism Yongjun worte, “China has never covered up the outbreak. COVID-19 is a brand new virus that has never been seen in human history.”

Addressing recent reports that the US was encouraging Israel to sever economic ties with the Chinese government, Yongjun said, “We trust that [our] Jewish friends are not only able to defeat the coronavirus but also the ‘political virus,’ and choose the course of action that best serves their interests.”

He added: “We would also like to congratulate the Israeli government on the outstanding leadership and remarkable achievements in the battle against the virus. Israel’s success proves that we can certainly be able to contain the virus as long as we act early and put people’s safety as the priority.”