Little of General Li's background is revealed, except that he was the Head of the Chinese Imperial Army and that Li Shang is his son. He is shown to be very loyal to the Emperor, offering to station his army in the Imperial City to protect the Emperor. He complies immediately, however, when ordered to protect their people instead. He seems to have a great deal of faith and pride in Shang, choosing to promote his son to an army Captain for his accomplishments, despite Shang's young age and the great responsibilities of the position.
Role in the film
General Li, as his title suggests, is the General of China's Imperial army. When the Huns invade, the General meets with the Emperor of China to discuss defense plans. Though General Li suggests moving the army to the Imperial City to protect the Emperor, he is instead ordered to protect their people. When the Emperor ordered that new recruits be conscripted into the army, General Li believes that his current troops would be enough to defeat Shan Yu and the Hun army, the Emperor was not willing to take that risk.
General Li is next seen at the military camp where new army recruits are meeting. In a tent, he discusses war plans with his son, Shang. The General reveals his intention to stop the Huns at a nearby mountain pass, as it is the quickest way to the Imperial City and the site of a village in need of protection. He promotes Shang to captain and tasks him with training the new recruits. When Chi-Fu protests that Shang is not ready (citing the fact that it is an enormous responsibility to take in), General Li lists Shang's numerous skills, as well as his "impressive military lineage." Chi-Fu is tasked with observing the training and allowing the new recruits to join the regular army when he feels they are ready. General Li mounts his horse and wishes Shang good luck before leaving with his army. However, the general has underestimated the size and strength of the Hun army.
General Li is not seen for the rest of the film. When Shang and his troops arrive in the mountain pass where the general had intended to intercept Shan Yu, they find Li's army massacred. While searching for survivors, Chien Po discovers that General Li is among the dead and brings the General's helmet to Shang as proof. Shang takes a moment to mourn, setting up a makeshift shrine to honor his father. Mulan also places a doll she found in a nearby destroyed village at the shrine to honor all the lives that have been lost.
When Li Shang presents the sword of Shan Yu to the Emperor, the sovereign praises the young captain, assuring him that his father would have been proud.