Hong Kong Triads

After China lost the first Opium War, started by Britain and France, Hong Kong was awarded to the British in January 1841.

Soon after the British established Hong Kong as a colony, the number of Triad members grew considerably.

In 1900, the Boxer Rebellion even had allies among some of the Hong Kong Triads.

Britain returned Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997.

Today, Hong Kong, like Macao, is a Special Administrative Region and Hong Kong basic law runs the region instead of the law of the People’s Republic of China.

Beijing calls it the most democratic legal system in the PRC. Pro-democracy activists say it is not democratic enough.

As in Macao, the Chinese Triads have been very active for more than a century.

In fact, when China fell to the Chinese Communists in 1949, hordes of Shanghai triads fled for their lives to Hong Kong, establishing the British colony as the world headquarters of Chinese organized crime. Source: Partners in Crime

Chinese Triads have members in nearly every country in the world and are especially strong in China, Southeast Asia, and the United States.

In the early 1980s, when China opened to global trade, the Triads started to return to the mainland.

Triad criminal activity includes but is not limited to street-level crime such as gambling, extortion and prostitution, and international activities such as narcotics trafficking, counterfeiting and smuggling goods and people.

It is estimated that there are 50 Triad societies in Hong Kong with a total membership of about 80,000.

Of these societies, about fifteen are criminally active… Sun Yee On is the largest Triad in Hong Kong with an estimated 25,000 members. In addition to criminal activities in Hong Kong, intelligence reports since 1994 indicate Triads dominate the government of Guangdong Province on the mainland. Source: Illuminated Lantern.com

Learn more about organized crime in Macao


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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