Taiwan general who served as Chief of Staff during 1996 China missile crisis dies

Lo Pen-li was aged 91

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Chief of General Staff Lo Pen-li visiting troops in Kinmen during the 1996 missile crisis.

Chief of General Staff Lo Pen-li visiting troops in Kinmen during the 1996 missile crisis. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - General Lo Pen-li (羅本立), who served as Chief of the General Staff during the 1996 missile crisis, died in Taipei City Saturday at the age of 91.

During the run-up to Taiwan’s first direct presidential elections in March 1996, China fired missiles in the island’s direction as a warning not to re-elect President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). The intimidation did not work, as Lee received more than 50 percent of the votes.

Lo was born in the Chinese province of Anhui in 1927 and graduated from the army school in 1949, just as the Kuomintang was losing the civil war against the Communists and moved to Taiwan.

He took office as Chief of the General Staff in July 1995 when the Chinese began firing missiles into the sea near Taiwan. In order to boost morale during that tense period, Lo visited troops on the frontline islands of Kinmen and Matsu 16 times, the Central News Agency reported.

Later, he was in charge of beginning military reform, which included slimming down the size of the armed forces.

In 2005, he resigned as a general in order to be allowed to visit relatives in China the following year, according to the Liberty Times.