Chun-Li's name is Mandarin; chun 春 "spring", lì 丽 "beautiful", which means she is a single young girl filled with the beauty of spring.
Older official sources from the early 90's indicate Chung was Chun-Li's surname, although it is worth noting this could very well not be the case anymore. In the live-action Street Fighter movie, Chun-Li was given the surname Zang/Xiang, but Capcom has not officially recognized it.
Chun-Li's appearance has differed several times in the Street Fighter series, as well as in official art and cameos she has made in other works. She is known for her very muscular thighs. She is 5 feet 6 1/2 inches according to her Street Fighter Alpha 3 biography.
Chun-Li in her outfit worn in the Alpha series. Chun-Li wears the qipao, a Chinese dress imported over from Manchuria, yet popular among girls during the early 20th century. Her outfit is modified to allow a far wider range of movement than a normal qipao. She also wears white combat boots and blue leotard with dark brown sheer pantyhose with her qipao. Her qipao is blue with golden accents. She was originally supposed to wear a peach-colored qipao, as seen in her in-game profile and ending in the original Street Fighter II.
During the period covered in Street Fighter Alpha, she wore an embroidered vest, unitard and athletic shoes, as well as studded wristbands. It is unclear why she chose to stop using this outfit and switch to the qipao in subsequent Street Fighter games. With the switch to the qipao, she also swapped her wristbands for large spiked bracelets. In Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation movie, her vest has changed to red instead of blue. Chun-Li's Alternate Costume in Street Fighter 4 In Street Fighter 4, Chun Li's alternate outfit consists of a black sleeveless evening gown with gold accents at the bottom. She wears a black and gold sash held by a red rope-like belt. The outfit is completed with red shoes, gold earrings and black and gold bracelets. The outfit resembles the clothes she wore in one of the episodes of the American cartoon series Street Fighter.
In various official art, she has also been shown in her police outfit, as well as (presumably) her favorite casual attire: a varsity-style jacket, T-shirt, jeans and white tennis shoes. It has been shown in some official art that when wearing her casual attire she also wears her Alpha wristbands.
Her hairstyle is called "ox horns", a typical style in which Chinese children dress their hair; depictions of girls in Chinese paintings frequently show girls in ox horns.
During the Alpha series, she chose to wear them unadorned, while in the remaining games, she uses silk brocades and ribbons to cover them, colored white to signify the mourning of her father. These silk brocades and ribbons that cover them are sometimes called bao.
In Street Fighter 4, when wearing her alternate costume, she wears her ox horns unadorned, just like in her Alpha appearance, only this time it's held by red ropes with golden balls at the tip.
Chun-Li is generally a cheerful woman. She is often happy and excited when she wins a fight, mainly with her friends. As part of police Interpol she takes her job very seriously and will try her best to complete a mission. When it comes to fighting Chun-Li tends to get quite competitive with other female fighters, but after her fights with a few of them she becomes allies with them and possibly become friends. She also wants to become stronger due to experience in fighting M. Bison, Vega, Cammy, Juri, etc. She also has a strong admiration for Ryu and is currently eager to challenge him to improve her skills (and possibly impress him). Overall Chun-Li is cheerful, resourceful, dedicated and while in fighting, serious. And of course she does not take kindly to losing, especially to intense rivals like Vega and Juri.
Chun-Li is the original fast character in the Street Fighter series, utilizing multiple rapid attacks rather than the slow damaging strikes of larger characters like Zangief. Her agile and swift movements are a favorite amongst game-players. It is interesting to note that in the early days of arcade fighting games, many other female characters played in a similarly speedy style, following the example set by Chun-Li. In previous games (Street Fighter 2 mainly) she was basically a charge character along with Guile and E.Honda but her style was changed in later games to give her a more technical feel as well as her trademark "speed" granted to the player.
In almost every game, Chun-Li's signature move is the Hyakuretsu Kyaku which was her ability to throw multiple kicks in one sitting. It is referred to as the Lightning Kick. Its easy accessibility (bluntly pressing a kick button rapidly) has become a staple in many games. Her Spinning Bird Kick acts like Ryu's and Ken's own Tatsumaki Senpuu Kyaku. Chun-Li can also wall-jump, meaning that pressing in the opposite direction after touching the wall during a jump will allow her to bounce off of it. While jumping, she can perform a Stomp Kick on top of her opponent's heads. Beginning with Street Fighter Alpha, this move was replaced by the Sen'en Shuu, which was an overhead drop kick which knocked the opponent down. This, in itself, was replaced by the Hazan Shuu in Street Fighter III, which was a similar move where Chun-Li flipped in the air before attacking with her overhead kick. She also regained her Spinning Bird Kick in that game. Her Kaku Kyaku Raku was basically a move where she flips in the air and drop kicks her opponents on the head, causing them to fall down. This was replaced in Street Fighter III with the "Tenshin Shuu Kyaku" which requires her to jump all the way behind the opponent to attack, but also lets her combo afterward. Her trademark projectile is called the Kikoken, and has alternately been a motion attack and a charge attack depending on the game. Her Tenshou Kyaku enabled her to jump in the air and perform 3-4 consecutive kicks that can damage air born opponents.
Other notable moves that have appeared include the Sou Hakkei, a powerful palm strike that Chun-Li can do in her X-ISM mode in Street Fighter Alpha 3; the Reishiki Kikou Ken, a toned-down version of the Kikou Shou as it appeared in the Alpha games that Chun-Li can do at any time in the Marvel vs. Capcom series; and the Tenshin Enbu in SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom, a command grab similar to Yun's Zenpou Tenshin that does no damage but leaves the opponent open to a combo.
Chun-Li's first Super Attack, the Senretsu Kyaku, was an extended Hyakuretsu Kyaku that moved Chun-Li forward and could go through fireballs. Her Kikou Shou, which she received in Street Fighter Alpha, was a stationary ball of energy that could hit attacks coming from above and in front. Her Hazan Tenshou Kyaku was a powered-up version of the Tenshou Kyaku. These moves received typical power increases in the Marvel vs. Capcom series.
Her appearance in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike saw her retain only one Super Art from before, the Kikosho, in a version that more resembled the Marvel version than the original Alpha version. Her two new Super Arts were the Hoyoku Sen, a re-imagined Senretsu Kyaku that was made up of two flurries of rapid kicks followed by a final kick that sent the opponent upward; and the Tensei Ranka, an aerial flip-kick that ended with a final kick crashing straight downward.
In Street Fighter IV, Chun-Li gains a new Ultra Combo called Hosenka. It is very much like Hoyoku Sen, except instead of kicking the opponent away after the Hyakuretsu Kyaku, she kicks the opponent upwards and does a powered-up Spinning Bird Kick, which causes a tornado and does significant damage. She then kicks the opponent up into the air with a lot of force, landing gracefully after the opponent falls back on to the floor.
In the latest version of Street Fighter IV (Super Street Fighter IV), one can select an Ultra Combo among Hosenka and Kikosho. The Kikosho animation is nearly identical to what is depicted in Street Fighter III: Third Strike.