Organized Crime

November 14, 2010

The China Law Blog had an interesting discussion about China’s Mafia…. Whaddya know?

The questions were: “So what is going on out there? How big is China’s mafia? Does it steer clear of foreign companies, particularly those from the West? Is it big in Chongqing, yet far less so elsewhere? What do you know? Let’s get a discussion going….”

To offer more information, the five video clips embedded in this post are about organized crime in today’s China.

When I arrived at the China Law Blog, there were twenty-one comments.  A few said the Communist Party was the most powerful mob in China.

I don’t agree.

However, to be fair, that would fit most governments, which is the reason why America’s wise Founding Fathers created a Republic with checks and balances in an attempt to avoid the US being taken over by organized criminals voted into office by the democratic majority.

Occasionally in the US, city or regional political machines have become organized and involved in criminal activities. Chicago and New York are the first two cities that come to mind that have had a history of political corruption linked to organized crime.

Then comes along a Bo Xilai in China or government agents such as Eliot Ness or Frank J. Wilson in the US with the support and backing of forces more powerful than the criminals.

I’m sure that the growth of organized crime in China is no different from what we’ve seen in the US, Mexico, Europe, etc., and a few of the better comments at the China Law Blog support that opinion.

I found Blue Lantern’s comment informative. “In China the organized gangs are called Triads, and they are very strong in the North-East and South of China. They are also far stronger than the Mafia, and control much of the global drug trade.”

Several comments said most “loan sharking” in China was done by rather small and disorganized groups.

I found Sun Kim’s comment interesting. “The difference between organized crime “syndicates” in China and elsewhere is that the CCP has the power, will, and the might to crush any syndicate that it deems “inappropriate” virtually overnight. These “mafia” u describe are ragtag groups that undoubtedly operate with the unspoken approval of the provincial government and/or the CCP as they ultimately help support the economy, albeit in shady terms.”

In fact, the US Federal government has the power that Sun talks about, which is why the US mafia was crushed. All it takes is a concerted, focused effort. Macmillan published a book on this topic— Bringing Down the Mob, The War Against the America Mafia.

I found Laobaixing’s comment to be the most informative. He cited a source at Rutgers that studies this topic. “He describes a lot of mom and pop organizations working with each other, rather than some well integrated crime family.”

The opinions that most organized crime starts at the city and provincial level is the best answer. That’s how organized crime started in the US. However, I do not doubt that the Chinese Triads have returned to mainland China since Deng Xiaoping opened China to world trade.

Wherever there is a capitalist economy and a democracy, there will be fertile ground for organized crime to take root.

If you are interested in this discussion, I recommend you click over to the China Law Blog and read the rest of the comments. I also plan to launch a series of posts on organized crime in China soon.


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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