Jia once lived in Beijing, where she met Patrick, her would-be husband. After they got married, which became somewhat of a scandal then, the couple ran the Beijing Institute and divided their time between the Institute and Idris before finally moving to Alicante in the late 1990s.
During the trial for the remaining members of the Circle involved in the Uprising, Jia and her husband voted for leniency for the Lightwoods, an act for which the family has always been grateful. The Lightwoods have been good family friends ever since.
In September 2007, the Penhallows allowed the Lightwoods to stay at their house so they could attend the meetings discussing the war against Valentine Morgenstern. Along with the Lightwoods, the Penhallows also housed Patrick's nephew, Sebastian Verlac, as a guest.
When "Sebastian" killed Max Lightwood, his mother, Maryse, was infuriated and had an argument with Jia and Patrick for allowing a killer into their house. Unbeknownst to all of them, "Sebastian" was in fact Valentine's son, Jonathan, in disguise. Jia and Patrick then called Élodie to tell them about Sebastian. Upset and disbelieving, Élodie insisted that there must have been some mistake, so she sent them photos, through which the family was able to verify that the Sebastian they met was an impostor. Aline would then be the one to pass the message onto the Lightwoods through Clary Fray and Luke Garroway.
Not long afterwards, Valentine and Jonathan sent another wave of demons into Alicante. This time, the Shadowhunters were prepared, and a full-blown war took place. Jia and Patrick fought alongside other adult Shadowhunters and Downworlders, and they quickly won the battle in a matter of minutes.
Also some time after, their daughter Aline, inspired by Alec Lightwood, who publicly kissed his boyfriend Magnus Bane in Alicante, came out to them as a lesbian and began dating Helen Blackthorn, a half-faerie, half-Shadowhunter Council member. The couple mostly did not discuss her sexuality, but while Patrick was saddened for mostly selfish reasons, Jia was worried that Helen, part of a race known for their untrustworthiness, would break her daughter's heart.
Months later, Jia was named Consul. During the search for the missing Jace Herondale and Sebastian Morgenstern, Jia petitioned to continue the search for them in full force but was ultimately vetoed when the majority of the Clave decided to prioritize fixing the wards over Wrangel Island. During this time, her daughter Aline was aware of a secret ongoing rescue effort by the young Shadowhunters of the New York Institute. Not wanting the Clave to put a stop to it, Aline agreed not to alert the Clave or Jia. After the confrontation against the Endarkened at the Burren, and the subsequent retrieval of Jace, both Maryse and Aline lied to her about the events leading up to it, claiming not to have found the time or means to alert them before the battle.
After the encounter at the Burren, Sebastian began attacking Institutes across the world and turning Shadowhunters into Endarkened. When survivors from the Los Angeles Institute were evacuated to Idris, Jia and her husband allowed the children—Emma Carstairs and most of Helen's younger siblings—to stay in their home. Per protocol, Jia and the Inquisitor, Robert Lightwood, interrogated the children, save the youngest, Octavian Blackthorn, with the Mortal Sword.
When the Adamant Citadel was attacked by Sebastian and his forces, Jia filtered the fighters going through the Portal to the Citadel. Jace and Clary ran to the Portal without her permission, and she was unable to follow or stop them as the Portal closed behind the pair.
Jia held a Clave meeting to inform her fellow Shadowhunters about the Downworld representatives being kidnapped by Sebastian. At the meeting, Matthias Gonzales, the former head of the Buenos Aires Institute who had been Turned by Sebastian, held Jia hostage, threatening to kill her as he relayed Sebastian's message. Alec Lightwood intervened by shooting at his hand with an arrow, making her captor drop the knife he was holding to her throat, allowing Jia to escape in the confusion.
Jia, Patrick, the Lightwoods, Jace, Clary, Simon and brothers Enoch and Zachariah discussed whether or not to surrender Jace and Clary up to Sebastian. Jia along with her daughter, Aline and her girlfriend, Helen, Maryse and Robert and Brother Enoch and Zachariah attended the funeral for the Shadowhunters who died at the Citadel battle. Jia spoke to Brother Zachariah about Tessa and also about Edward Longford, who killed himself after killing his parabatai.
Jia had a brief conversation with Sebastian and she found out that Clary and Jace left Alicante. Jia and Patrick found out from Maryse and Robert that Alec, Isabelle, and Simon Lewis fled Alicante, unaware that they went to Edom to rescue the Downworld representatives and Jocelyn. Jia received a letter from Julian and Emma written by Julian's older brother, Mark, about the Fair Folk's betrayal and learned that Mark was a member of the Wild Hunt. Jia promised Julian and Emma that she would try to get Mark back for them.
Jia had Julian and Emma talk to the Council about what they knew about Sebastian without using the Mortal Sword. Jia and her husband, Patrick, Maryse and Robert, Kadir Safar, Diana Wrayburn, Tomas Rosales and Brothers Enoch and Zachariah held a meeting about the Fair Folk's betrayal and their preparations to attack them, and spoke of requesting aid from the warlocks of the Spiral Labyrinth.
Jia received a warlock message from Catarina Loss which was written in Maia Robert's handwriting warning the Nephilim that Sebastian and his Endarkened would be attacking Alicante. Jia and her family and the rest of the adults fought against Sebastian's Endarkened and the faerie warriors when they attacked Alicante.
At the Council after the Dark War, Jia and the Clave had the faeries sign a set of sanctions for their betrayal which they begrudgingly agreed. Helen and Mark Blackthorn, because of their faerie blood, were also caught up in the Clave's punishment of the Fair Folk. Helen got banished to Wrangel Island to study the wards which devastated her and her girlfriend—her own daughter, Aline—while Helen's brother Mark was left indefinitely with the Wild Hunt, despite his family's protests.
Jia spoke to Luke about the Council meeting which was interrupted by Julian and Emma. Julian and Emma were angry at Jia for going back on her promise and they made her agree to perform the parabatai ritual as Julian and Emma had already agreed to be parabatai. Jia told Emma that Julian's uncle Arthur had agreed to let Emma stay with his family at the Los Angeles Institute, and that Diana Wrayburn would be the new tutor since Katerina died.
After Clary and the others returned from Edom, with their companion Simon Lewis once again made a mundane with no memories of the Shadow World, Jia allowed Clary to call him. Some weeks later, Jia and her family attended Jocelyn and Luke's wedding at Three Arrows Farm.
Since Aline's girlfriend was exiled to Wrangel Island, Aline followed shortly after. The couple were wed at the end of 2009, and Jia served as her daughter's suggenes, giving Aline to Helen. Jia remained in constant contact with her and spent several evenings writing letters to her.
Since becoming Consul, she designed a routine to de-stress: she would swim, the rigor depending on how stressful the day was, then take a leisurely walk through Idris's hills or in the Penhallow garden, and would then end the day with a cup of hot chocolate and a novel to read. Nonetheless, her years of service as Consul gradually took a toll on Jia and her health.
In 2012, Diana Wrayburn approached Jia with the news that a Faerie prince was sent as a messenger for the Seelie Queen, offering the end of the Cold Peace. Though Jia would love a way to end it, thus allowing her daughter and her wife to come home, she feared that the other members of the Clave would not agree, especially not the Cohort—a group of Shadowhunters prejudiced against Downworlders. As they spoke more, Diana claimed Zara Dearborn was lying about having killed Malcolm Fade and Jia offered her Zara's file to see if she could find any proof to discredit her.
When they met again, Jia had spoken with Robert and he agreed that a meeting for Kieran to testify would be a good idea. Diana had explained to her that she spotted a patch of Blight in Brocelind Forest that matched that of in the Unseelie Lands. Jia sent others to check and Jia mentioned that Helen and Aline had noticed a flux on their map of dark magic in that same area, though at the time they inspected it there was nothing to see. Diana then mentioned the file and Jia agreed that she believed Zara had been lying about all her past accomplishments but unfortunately could not prove it. They parted with Jia feeling weary of all this meeting hoped to accomplish, especially where bringing her daughter back was concerned.
Following a horrific turn of events during the Council meeting that led to the deaths of Robert Lightwood and the young Livia Blackthorn in the hands of Annabel Blackthorn, as well as the destruction of the Mortal Sword, the leader of the Cohort, Horace Dearborn, rose to power as the new Inquisitor. Though Jia and other members were initially able to thwart Dearborn's attempts of taking away the rights of Downworlders, Jia ended up being overthrown with underhanded tricks, decisions made and meetings held timed during her absence.
Considering how she had helped her in the past, Jia coordinated with Diana, and their meeting with Gwyn ap Nudd at the blighted area in the forest falsely painted her as a traitor, and Dearborn became interim Consul while Jia was imprisoned at the Gard, though the Iron Sisters refused to recognize Dearborn's rule. The Silent Brothers initially abstained from choosing but ultimately proclaimed that they had decided that Jia was the true Consul. Dru broke her and the other innocent prisoners out of the Gard, just in time for them to join the battle against the Cohort. On the Imperishable Fields, Jia reunited with Aline and Helen.
After the battle, Jia announced during one of the meetings her decision to step down as Consul. As her final act as Consul, she made the vote open for everyone, even the underage Shadowhunters and even the captured Cohort members. Jia was succeeded by Alec Lightwood, and when Zara Dearborn and the Cohort gave them an ultimatum about leaving Idris to them, or witnessing their suicides firsthand, Jia left the decision up to Alec as the new Consul.
Jia is Asian and has black, graying hair and dark, almond-shaped eyes. She is said to greatly resemble her daughter, Aline.
- Son of the Dawn (mentioned only)
- City of Glass (first appearance)
- The Red Scrolls of Magic (mentioned only)
- City of Lost Souls (mentioned only)
- City of Heavenly Fire
- Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy (mentioned only)
- Pale Kings and Princes (mentioned only)
- Bitter of Tongue
- Angels Twice Descending
- The Land I Lost (mentioned only)
- A Long Conversation (mentioned only)
- Lady Midnight (mentioned only)
- Lord of Shadows
- Queen of Air and Darkness
- The Lost World (mentioned only)