The Triads as Business

The Triads as Business

The Triads as Business

The Triads as Business

Synopsis

There is no doubt that the triads have become recognized as a sophisticated and international criminal force and, following the handover of Hong Kong to China, there have been increasing fears that their influence will spread to the West through emigration. This book investigates the reality behind the myth with a study of the Hong Kong triads, generally regarded as the headquarters of triad societies throughout the world. Yiu Kong Chu examines their origins, their organized extortion from legitimate businesses large and small, and their more recent moves into illegal activities such as drug trafficking, human smuggling and gambling.Contrary to the popular belief that Hong Kong triads are replacing the Italian Mafia as the most powerful criminal organization in the world, this book argues that Hong Kong triads may be declining, as other ethnic Chinese crime gangs emerge as powerful crime groups in Western societies.Based on interviews with ex triad members and victims of the triads, police from Hong Kong, mainland China and Europe, as well as documentary evidence The Triads as Business gives a vivid and compelling picture of the triads as part of a wider society.

Excerpt

In Hong Kong, triads are known to have been long involved in the illegal businesses of drugs, gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, debt collecting, and smuggling. Triads are also notorious for organised extortion from legitimate businesses, such as the entertainment industry, street hawking, wholesale markets, minibus services, interior decoration businesses, the trading of properties, and the film industry. Since Hong Kong triads are believed to be increasingly active in drug trafficking, human smuggling, and economic organised crime such as credit card fraud, counterfeiting, and money laundering, Western police predict that these triads will replace the Italian mafia as the most powerful criminal organisation in the world in the next century. Are these contentions correct? To elucidate what exactly triads do in different kinds of organised crime, this book, inspired by Gambetta’s economic theory of protection, aims to critically analyse the role of Hong Kong triads in legal, illegal, and international markets in simple economic terms.

The first part of the book deals with the origin and organisation of Hong Kong triads, discussing whether the triads were imported from Qing China to facilitate the patriotic movement against the alien ruler or emerged spontaneously to respond to the conflict among different migratory dialect groups for job opportunities in labour markets at the turn of the century, and whether triad societies are centrally structured or highly unorganised. The second part examines whether triad members are mere extortionists or are able to provide real services to the business community. Triad involvement in entertainment businesses, the construction industry, outdoor filming, street hawking, minibus services, wholesale fish markets, interior decoration businesses, the selling of new flats, and the film industry are discussed. The third part deals with triad involvement in illegal markets. Using the examples of drug dealing, gambling, and prostitution, this research tests whether Hong Kong triad members directly operate illegal businesses or simply sell protection to entrepreneurs in the illegal industry. The fourth part concerns whether all international Chinese organised crime is committed by Hong Kong triads. Triad involvement in drug trafficking and human smuggling is

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