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Why are you here? War is over. Long over. And my Yangtze holds no bao wu. No... treasure. Nothing for you to plunder.

Captain Zao is the ghoulified captain of the Yangtze-31 and a former officer in the Chinese Navy,[1] residing onboard the submersible in the Commonwealth in Fallout 4.


The Great War[]

When asked about it, Zao recalls firing his ship's nuclear salvo as ordered on October 23, 2077, the day of the Great War, indicating that he was the one responsible for the nuclear detonations that specifically targeted the Boston area in Massachusetts. In all likelihood, a missile from the Yangtze-31 was the one responsible for the creation of the Glowing Sea, Zao talks about his shame when he saw the ruined city when he arrived at the port.[2]

Shortly after the Yangtze-31 launched most of its missiles, it struck a sea mine that caused significant damage, particularly to the vessel's nuclear reactor, of which the radiation leaking from it eventually turned the captain and crew into ghouls.[2] According to Zao, when he made it into port at Boston and discovered the city already in ruins, he was reluctant to leave the Yangtze-31 as the chaos from the direct aftermath of the Great War was still underway although it also prevented anyone from particularly caring about a Chinese stealth submarine docking at Boston Harbor.[3]

Living as a ghoul[]

For two centuries, Zao has eked out an existence scavenging what he could from the destroyed city and fighting off raiders while gathering intelligence and information that would, one day, serve his ultimate goal to return to China where he hopes to help rebuild his home country, or at least be able to die there. At the same time, he developed immense guilt and harbored great regret over the destruction he caused and the loss of so many lives. However, Zao is reluctant to leave his vessel undefended to try and acquire the needed components to repair it, for fear that raiders will cause further and irreparable damage while he is ashore.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

The only companions Zao had during the last 210 years were his crewmates. However, unlike their captain, they eventually succumbed to their radiation poisoning and turned feral. As they are still his valued crew, Zao couldn't bring himself to put them out of their misery.[9][10]

Despite spending over two centuries residing near the American continent and fully aware that their old conflict is long over, Zao still holds traditional values of the Old World such as considering the American liberation of Anchorage "a joke,"[11] and will derisively refer to the Sole Survivor as "capitalist" and "American" if they attempt to negotiate a higher reward for providing assistance to him. Conversely, if one does not show him animosity or attempt to barter a reward, he is thankful and willing to accept the help of one who once would have been his hated enemy.

Interactions with the player character[]

Interactions overview[]

FO76 ui icon quest
This character is involved in quests.


  • Here There Be Monsters: After discovering the Yangtze in the Boston Harbor from either finding it independently or having Donny Kowalski point it out, the Sole Survivor can either offer to help Zao repair his vessel or threaten to kill him for destroying the Commonwealth.

Effects of player's actions[]

  • Should the Sole Survivor call Zao "commie" in their first interaction, he will react angrily and turn hostile, forcing one to kill him and failing Here There Be Monsters.
  • Should one help Zao repair the reactor of the Yangtze, he provides three homing beacons that can be used to call in a tactical nuclear strike as a reward, remarking that "[he does] not want to bring the fire home." Zao will also give the player character his sword, a unique weapon, if all three Charisma checks are passed.


Apparel Weapon Other items
Submariner uniform
Submariner hat
One of the following:
10mm pistol
Laser pistol (LVL 10+)
.44 pistol (LVL 22+)
Fragmentation grenade (5)
10mm rounds


After completing Here There Be Monsters, despite Diamond City Radio mentioning reports that a Chinese submarine was seen leaving the Harbor, Zao and the Yangtze will remain where they are for the entire game.


Zao appears only in Fallout 4.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Zao was originally slated to have a larger role in the game, as the player would sail the Yangtze over to the deep sea-situated Vault 120 as part of the cut quest 20 Leagues Under the Sea. Zao would play a major role in the quest and be present at the final confrontation.
  • Zao is the first human character from pre-War China to appear in the present in the Fallout series.
  • The name 'Zao' may be a misspelling of the common Chinese surname 'Zhao'(趙), since while 'Zao' as a surname indeed exists, it is very uncommon in China. According to zupulu.com, his surname may be 造, 棗, 皂, 隞, 遭, 灶 or 早 in Chinese.
    • 'Zao' may also be referring to the Chinese character for "rotten" or "horrible"(糟), referring to his current status as a ghoul with rotting skin.
  • Zao is observed often mixing Chinese with English in his speech. Despite his Chinese being fairly decently pronounced, albeit not with a very clear, typical northern Chinese accent, Zao's lines in Mandarin include some fairly awkward grammar and syntax, especially in the way he mixes Chinese and English, which is entirely arbitrary and unlike how real-life Chinese-English bilingual people mix them. Words used include:
Zao's speech
  • Yangtze = 揚子
  • He ping = 和平, Peace.
  • Jiang Shi = 殭屍, Zombie/Ghoul.
  • Qian ting = 潛艇, Submarine.
  • Wei xian =危險 Danger.
  • Gu shi = 故事, Story.
  • Bao Wu = 寶物, Treasure.
  • Shi de = 是的, Yes.
  • Tong ku = 痛苦, Pain and suffering.
  • Xing yun = 幸運, Luck/Fortune.
  • Bu xing = 不幸, Misfortune.
  • Xie xie = 謝謝, Thanks.
  • Zhongguo = 中國, China.
  • Jia = 家, Home.
  • Zu guo = 祖國, Motherland.
  • Xian jin = 現金, Cash.
  • Yi han = 遺憾, Regret.
  • Jian = 劍, Sword.
  • Gong zuo = 工作, Work.
  • You xiu = 優秀, Excellent/Outstanding.
  • Bei = 悲, Sadness (however, Bei is usually associated with other adjectives instead of on its own, for example, Bei Ai - 悲哀', lit. sorrowful)
  • Jia ren = 家人, Family member.
  • Jue wang = 絕望, Despair.
  • Zha dan = 炸彈, Bomb.
  • Xiao xin = 小心, Be careful.
  • Si wang = 死亡, Death.
  • Bao zha = 爆炸, Explosion.
  • Zhu, zi ben jia, qu si ba! = 豬,資本家,去死吧, Pig, capitalist, go to hell!



  1. The Sole Survivor: "Who are you?"
    Captain Zao: "Zao! Captain of the Chinese Navy! I sail the Yangtze-31. This qianting. Submarine. My beautiful boat. Speak harsh words of me if you must. But my Yangtze... Speak of her with respect. Why are you here? War is over. Long over. And my Yangtze holds no bao wu. No... treasure. Nothing for you to plunder."
    (Zao's dialogue)
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Sole Survivor: "Where are you going to get that?"
    Captain Zao: "Ah... Now that is the right question to ask. 200 years ago, I launched all of Yangtze's high-yield nuclear missiles. As ordered. For 200 years, I have lived with that guilt. That shame. So much fire Such bei. But one missile failed to launch. You must go down. Remove the warhead. Then bring it to me."
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Sole Survivor: "Have you been here for 200 years?"
    Captain Zao: "Wa! It has been that long? Shi de. Yes. I suppose it has. Long ago. Just after the fire. Yangtze struck a mine. My qianting barely made it here into harbor. City already ruins by then. Few noticed us. Fewer cared. Too much tong ku. Your arrival is good xingyun for me. I need help, you see. Yangtze is not... ahh... Seaworthy. You will help me fix her?"
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)
  4. The Sole Survivor: "Have you been here for 200 years?"
    Captain Zao: "Fushe! You say... radiation. From damaged reactor. Turn me into this guai wu. My crew... gone. I cannot think on their fate."
  5. The Sole Survivor: "Who are you?"
    Captain Zao: "Zao! Captain of the Chinese Navy! I sail the Yangtze-31. This qianting. Submarine. My beautiful boat. Speak harsh words of me if you must. But my Yangtze... Speak of her with respect. Why are you here? War is over. Long over. And my Yangtze holds no bao wu. No... treasure. Nothing for you to plunder."
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)
  6. The Sole Survivor: "Why would you trust me, a stranger?"
    Captain Zao: "Trust is risk. But a man must plow with oxen he has. You are not like raiders that board my quianting. My Yangtze. You show peace. Xie xie."
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)
  7. The Sole Survivor: "What will you do with the submarine once it's fixed?"
    Captain Zao: "Ah. I sail for Zhongguo. Return to China. Where I belong. My jia. My home?"
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)
  8. The Sole Survivor: "You can go to Hell. You're part of the enemy that destroyed my country."
    Captain Zao: "That is... sad. Um... unfortunate. Bu xing. I hoped that after 200 years, we could forget past hatred. I shall wait for someone more willing to help me."
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)
  9. The Sole Survivor: "Why don't you get it?"
    Captain Zao: "Ah... Because I have different task. While you are getting warhead? I will prepare the reactor. But now I must... warn you. There is danger. Wei xian! Old crew... still down there. Not okay like their captain. Worse. They do not harm me. But they will kill you! I... I cannot kill them. Still, they are my crew. My family. Jia ren, all of us. But you must do what you must do."
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)
  10. The Sole Survivor: "What will you do there?"
    Zao: "Anything Zao can do. If China is gone, I will build. House by house. And if no houses can be built, I will die. My jia. At peace."
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)
  11. The Sole Survivor: "Nah. No sweat. The radiation did give me super powers, though. X-Ray vision. Love the leopard g-string."
    Captain Zao: "200 years, and your humor is still bad. America liberating Anchorage? Now that was a good joke. Now. Here is what you must do. Head down to the reactor. Take dampening coil and warhead with you. First, insert the dampening coil. Carefully. Xiao xin. Then, put warhead into the reactor. As you do that, I monitor power levels from the control room. Do not put in warhead first! Do that? Si wang. Death, for you and me both."
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)