Zhu Houcong (16 September 1507 – 23 January 1567), known as the Jiajing Emperor, was the 11th Ming Dynasty Emperor of China who ruled from 1521 until his death. His ascendance as emperor was aided by the Templars.
In 1524, tired of the Chinese Assassins' meddling, he hunted the Assassins down, aiming to destroy all who opposed him. Almost the entire Chinese Assassin branch was eradicated, with only a few survivors fleeing West to seek support from other Assassins.
Jiajing sent men after them, following the Assassins as far as Italy. In Venice, they killed the mentor of a female Assassin named Shao Jun, who managed to escape them. They followed her to Florence, where she sought aid from the former Mentor of the Italian Assassins, Ezio Auditore. Shao explained to Ezio that both her and her late mentor wished to meet him in order to learn how to strengthen the Assassin Order in China and recruit new Assassins. At first he refused, stating that his time with the Assassin Order was over, but he later gave in and explained how to keep alive the hopes of men by fighting for the people and liberty. Jiajing's men tracked the two to a marketplace in Florence while Ezio ran errands, and one of the men confronted them in an alley.
Shao fought and killed him, and both she and Ezio quickly fled, knowing more of Jiajing's men would most likely follow. On the carriage ride back to Ezio's home, Shao told him about Jiajing's cruel ways. She explained that Jiajing liked to inflict pain on his enemies with torturous deaths. Explaining that she had been a concubine before her mentor had saved her, when they returned to save the other concubines, Jiajing had killed them all. He preferred líng chí – a slow process of a thousand cuts until death – to simple beheadings.
Later that night, the rest of Jiajing's men faced both Ezio and Shao at Ezio's house. Most of the men employed Chinese sword-fighting techniques (as the first man that Shao had killed), but one of them instead used a Chinese hand cannon. Though they fought well, the men were all killed by the two Assassins. The next day, Shao departed for China, but not before receiving a mysterious gift from Ezio – a tiny chest, which he told her to only open if she lost her way.
- A message that Clay Kaczmarek wrote in blood on the wall in Desmond Miles' room stated that "Within Emperor Jiajing's sin and Quetzalcoatl's hunger lies the answers."