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|“||But know this, American, if you are really here for Raul Menendez, I have no need to kill you.||„|
|~ Tian Zhao to David "Section" Mason|
General Tian Zhao is a major antagonist in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. He's a general of the Chinese People's Liberation Army as well as the leader and chairman of the Strategic Defense Coalition, an East Asian military alliance lead by China and the main rival force of the United States by the year 2025. While initially an ally at his first appearance, Zhao becomes more of an uncontrollable megalomaniac hell-bent on having Russia join the SDC and have it become the world's largest military force.
Tian Zhao was born in China in the year 1961 during the First Cold War. Not much else is known about his early life, but he was most likely raised to believe in the communist ideology of the Chinese Communist Party and eventually enlisted and joined the People's Liberation Army at some point in time.
Zhao is first introduced in the mission "Old Wounds" where he's been deployed to Afghanistan in support of the Afghan Mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet Union which invaded the country in 1979 in support of the Afghan communist regime. He first appears as a Chinese agent and ally of Alex Mason, Frank Woods, and Jason Hudson in the year 1986 where he takes part in the American CIA program to smuggle stinger missiles to the Mujahideen to support them as they've been suffering heavy casualties from Soviet gunships and airpower. He eventually meets his contact, Mullah Rahmaan and aids in the defense of his base from the Soviet forces after they launch a surprise attack on the camp. Zhao and his American allies eventually push out the attacking Soviet forces and even get information out of the Soviet commander, Lev Kravchenko, but he's betrayed by Rahmaan, who works for Raul Menendez and is left to die in the desert along with the CIA team he was assigned to. Despite being left in the desert to die however, two unknown travelers come along and save him, one of them was visioned as being Viktor Reznov by Mason.
Rise to Power
Sometime after the end of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Tian Zhao had continued to pursue power within the Chinese government and the military. At some point in time, Zhao rose to the rank of General of the People's Liberation Army and would later become the chairman of the Strategic Defense Coalition, a military alliance of East Asian nations and Chinese allies, and would later attempt to persuade Russia into joining the alliance by any means necessary.
Mission in Pakistan
During the Second Cold War in the year 2025, Zhao was sent to Lahore, Pakistan and lead an SDC strike force there. His mission, officially, was the assassination of Raul Menendez. After David Mason and his team run into Zhao and his forces, he explains that they were in Pakistan to look for Menendez as their reason for being in SDC territory. Zhao accepts it ordering his troops to stand down and says that he has no reasons to kill Mason if he's only after Menendez. If the player were to listen closely and successfully recorded all of the conversations between Menendez and the ISI Leader, it's revealed that Menendez is planning on forming an alliance with Zhao to support Cordis Die in undermining the United States.
If all other Strike Force missions are completed and are successful, then the last one, "Dispatch" will be a mission where a strike team of Navy SEALs is sent to Peshawar, Pakistan to assassinate Zhao and effectively end all SDC and Chinese activities against the United States. At the start of the mission, Zhao will be flying over Peshwar when his VTOL transport along with the two other escort VTOLs are shot down by three U.S. Navy SEALs and he hides out in his crashed VTOL while the remnants of his security forces engage the SEALs in defense of their leader. If the mission succeeds, then Zhao is shot dead by a Navy SEAL and the mission ends. Afterwards, moderate Chinese leaders take over the government and form an alliance with the United States to take down Menendez, but that's only if the mission succeeds.
If Zhao survives with either the Strike Force missions incomplete or "Dispatch" is never played, then he'll remain in power and the Chinese government will remain under the control and influence of hardline government officials. Russia will eventually join the SDC and tensions between the United States and China will further increase.