|“||But know this, American, if you are really here for Raul Menendez, I have no need to kill you||„|
|~ Tian Zhao|
General Tian Zhao is the chairman of the Strategic Defense Coalition and the secondary antagonist in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Zhao is leading Chinese and East Asian forces against America and its allies during the Second Cold War. Depending on the player's actions in the Strike Force missions, he can either be killed or remain alive.
Black Ops II era
Zhao first appears in the campaign in the mission "Old Wounds", in which he leads Chinese forces aiding the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion. Fighting alongside CIA agents Alex Mason and Frank Woods, he is betrayed along with them by the Mujahideen leader Mullah Rahmaan after thwarting a Soviet attack, and is left to die in the desert along with them. Two unknown travelers, possibly including Viktor Reznov, save Zhao and the others from certain death.
In 2025, Zhao ascends to become the SDC's chairman in the Second Cold War, allying with or conquering multiple East Asian countries to contest American influence on the world stage. He is a rival to Admiral Tommy Briggs of JSOC and SEAL Team Six, who describes Zhao has a hardliner who the Chinese government only barely controls. After leading the SDC against American forces in several missions, he appears in person at the end of the mission "Fallen Angel", where he encounters Alex's son David Mason and his teammates escaping from Raul Menendez-led ISI forces in Pakistan. Zhao orders his troops to stand down and let David lives, telling him that if the Americans are trying to kill Menendez, he has no reason to harm them.
If the player records all of Menendez's conversation in "Fallen Angel", it is revealed that Cordis Die is seeking an alliance with Zhao and the SDC. After this, the Strike Force mission "Dispatch" is now available, which the US government authorizes Zhao's assassination as the SDC lost its influence and Zhao having fallen out with the Chinese government. SEAL Team Six shoots down Zhao's VTOL transport flying over Peshawar and ultimately succeeded in killing him. With Zhao's death, more moderate leadership takes over the SDC and China begins to pursue a more friendly relationship with the US.