At the center of the Green Gang’s metamorphosis was one man. His name was Du Yue-sheng. Du grew up an orphan and illiterate near Shanghai.
When Du was fourteen, he arrived in Shanghai and spent the money he earned on opium and women. In 1910, Du was sworn into the Green Gang.
Du lived and worked out of the French Concession in Shanghai where the police were the criminals.
In 1924, Du had an opportunity to become the leader of the Green Gang when the current leader, Wong, had the son of a powerful warlord beaten. The warlord then had Wong arrested and tossed in prison.
Du paid the warlord to free Wong, who then owed Du a debt of gratitude. From that day on, Du controlled the Green Gang.
Du Yue-sheng, godfather of the underworld—45 minute documentary
In 1927, General Chiang Kai-shek made a deal with the Triad Du controlled to destroy the Communists in Shanghai who were organizing labor unions.
Frederick Wakeman, a historian at the University of California-Berkeley says that Du was threatened with the possibility of a Communist victory.
Thousands of Green Gang members went after the Communists to shoot and behead as many as possible. Within hours, at least five thousand Communists had been executed.
As a reward, Chiang Kai-shek made Du a general in the Nationalist Army. Du’s public image became one of respectability while he maintained an iron control over Shanghai and the Green Gang.
For Chiang Kai-shek, the alliance with Du and the Green Gang became a useful way to raise money from Shanghai’s wealthy families.
Du was also in charge of the agency to stop the opium trade in Shanghai and he controlled the drugs seized by the Nationalists, which he would sell making a huge profit.
The History Channel produced a documentary on Organized Crime in China. (click the previous link to see the entire video—about an hour)
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.
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