Chinese Mafia The Triads Of China
The earliest triads started as resistance/rebel forces who opposed Manchu rule in China during the Qing Dynasty, as the Manchu ethnic group were regarded as foreign invaders in the predominant Han Chinese society of China then. In the 1760s, the Heaven and Earth Society (???) was founded, with its objective to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and restore Han Chinese rule in China. As the society’s influence spread throughout China, it branched into several smaller groups with different names, one of which was the Three Harmonies Society (???). These societies adopted the triangle as their emblem, usually accompanied by decorative images of swords or portraits of Guan Yu. The term “triad” was first coined by British authorities in colonial Hong Kong, as a reference to the triads’ use of triangular imagery. While never proven, it is “highly probable” that triad organizations either took after or were originally part of the revolutionary movement called the White Lotus Society, and quite possibly, The Boxers.
Migration to Hong Kong
When the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949 in mainland China, law enforcement became stricter and tough governmental crackdown on criminal organizations forced the triads to migrate to Hong Kong, then a British colony. It was estimated that in the 1950s, there were about 300,000 triad members in Hong Kong. Academics at the University of Hong Kong say that most triad societies were established between 1914 and 1939, and that there were once more than 300 in the territory. Since then the number of such groups has consolidated to around 50, of which 14 are still regularly in the eye of police. By 1951, there were nine main triads operating in Hong Kong and they had divided the land according to their ethnic groups and geographical locations, with each triad in charge of a region. The nine triads were Wo Hop To, Wo Shing Wo, Rung, Tung, Chuen, Shing, Sun Yee On, 14K and Luen. Each of them had its own headquarters, its sub-societies and public fronts. After the 1956 riots, the Hong Kong government introduced stricter law enforcement and triads became less active.
Scope of activities
Triads currently engage in a variety of crimes from extortion and money laundering to trafficking and prostitution. They also are involved in smuggling and counterfeiting goods such as music, video, and software as well as more tangible goods such as clothes, watches, and money.
Triads have been engaging in counterfeiting since the 1880s. Between the 1960s and 1970s, triads were involved in counterfeiting Chinese currency, often of the Hong Kong 50-cent piece. In the same decade, the gangs were also involved in copying books, usually expensive ones, and selling them in the black market. With the advent of new technology and the improvement of the average person’s standard of living, triads have progressed to producing counterfeit goods such as watches, film VCDs / DVDs and designer apparel such as clothing and handbags. Since the 1970s, triad turf control was weakened and some triads shifted their revenue streams to underground as well as legitimate businesses. Source: Wikipedia