Chinese ambassador to Israel found dead at home in Tel Aviv just days after he hit out at coronavirus backlash
China's ambassador to Israel was found dead in his Tel Aviv residence on Sunday, according to Israeli police. Fifty eight-year-old Du Wei had lashed out at the criticism of his country's handling of the coronavirus pandemic just days before his death. An Israeli police spokesman said that an investigation was ongoing and that "as part of the regular procedure, police units are at the scene."
Du, who became ambassador to Israel in February, was married and had a son. However, both his wife and child were not in the country at the time of his death. According to The Sun, he had previously worked as the Chinese ambassador to Ukraine from 2016 to 2019. Yuval Rotem, the director-general of Israel's foreign ministry, expressed his condolences over Du's death to China's Deputy Ambassador to Israel Dai Yuming. The Chinese ambassador's death comes just two days after he condemned remarks made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Israel, saying that allegations about China concealing information about the outbreak of COVID-19 were "absurd."
Du said in an embassy statement that "scientists still haven’t identified the origin of COVID-19" and highlighted that the United States is currently the epicenter of the global pandemic. The embassy also noted Pompeo's warning to Israel about Chinese investments in the country, which noted that they could pose a serious security risk, especially in the area of infrastructure. Du spoke to the Makor Rishon newspaper in April, recalling how he flew to Israel in February and entered a 14-day quarantine due to the coronavirus outbreak in China. He received his diplomatic credentials at the end of March, but did not meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin -- as is customary -- due to the pandemic.
While speaking to the outlet, Du expressed hope to strengthen ties between Israel and China. He also addressed accusations China is facing as being responsible for the deadly virus outbreak. "I assumed my post in an extraordinary time when China was fighting against the COVID-19. Immediately after my arrival on February 15, I went into the 14-day home quarantine. During this, I had not taken a single step out of my residence nor had any direct contact with my Embassy colleagues. I just want to send a message to all Israeli friends that China is a responsible, rule-abiding, and trustworthy country," Du said.
"There are different voices regarding China’s fight," he continued. "In the beginning, some voices were condescending and schadenfreude. Later, when the disease broke out around the world, the voices became 'China should apologize.' It is scapegoating. In history, it has happened many times when the causes of diseases were wrongfully blamed on a specific group of people, which is despicable and should be condemned." Du added: "The disease is the enemy of all mankind, and the world must fight it together."
According to Israel's Channel 12 TV, unidentified emergency medical officials said initial findings indicated that the Chinese ambassador had died in his sleep of natural causes.