10 Crimes And Criminals Of Old China – thuglifer.com

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The term “Old China” isn’t used very often these days. The reason is pretty simple: “Old China” is a colloquialism for European-dominated China. It refers to the time period ranging from the signing of the Treaty of Nanking, which ceded certain economic and social privileges to the victorious British after the First Opium War, to the beginning of Japanese occupation in 1937.

Old China was supposedly one roaring party. Not only did both well-heeled and criminally cutthroat Europeans and Americans spend their money foolishly in China, but some even lived there year-round inside of territorial concessions or so-called international settlements. In general, foreigners both inside and outside of China saw it as an essentially lawless den of vice—a land where white merchants ruled the day, while gangsters and a million Sax Rohmer tales owned the night.

In truth, China was indeed a rather dangerous place during this time. Besides cities like Shanghai, where crime was so prevalent that the Shanghai Municipal Police became a small standing army equipped with the best weapons and trained in the latest martial arts, China itself was fractured among several different states, each containing a powerful warlord. Communist guerrilla fighters were a persistent nuisance, and so too were Muslim tribesmen in the country’s far west. In sum, the exoticism of Old China was undergirded by a river of gore. It’s no wonder that criminals and crimes were in abundance.

Featured image via Wikimedia

10 The Green Gang

Du Yuesheng

Photo via Wikimedia

Whether the Green Gang was a leviathan of violent crime or a social organization dedicated to looking after Chinese interests, they certainly wielded plenty of power. Most famously led by Du “Big Ears” Yuesheng (pictured above), a triad boss who bought cops, houses of ill repute, and politicians inside Shanghai’s French Concession, the Green Gang reportedly had their hands deep into every illicit trade in the city. Although this secret society liked to claim that their ancestry stretched all the way back to the Ming Dynasty, the truth is that this well-organized crime outfit didn’t blossom until the advent of Old China. During this time, the Green Gang specialized in the opium trade, which made them very wealthy.

Inevitably, the Green Gang caught the attention of authorities. Rather than completely kill the gang off, Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Kuomintang Party that ruled the Republic of China from 1927 to 1937, attempted to co-opt the gang as part of a wider economic network controlled by the state. The Kuomintang also used the Green Gang as political assassins, especially during pitched battles with communist militias.

Ultimately, the Green Gang’s close ties with Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang Party spelled their doom. First, the Japanese militarily defeated Chinese forces on the mainland. Then, after China and the Allies managed to oust the remaining Japanese forces, General Chiang’s exhausted army could not stop Mao Tse-tung’s Chinese Communist Party from winning the civil war that resumed in 1946. By 1947, and certainly by 1950, the Green Gang was no longer a major player in Chinese life.

9 Shanghai Massacre Of 1927