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BellaOnline's Chinese Culture Editor

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Development of Chinese Triad Outside China

Guest Author - Michelle Lee

To catch up on the prequel of this article, go to http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art42931.asp

In the previous article, it was mentioned that the Triads was formerly a regional branch of the “Heaven and Earth Society”, a rebellion force comprised of Han Chinese. The organisation was formed to overthrow the “foreign rulers”, which was the Manchurian government of the Qing Dynasty. This resolve made by thousands of Hans had never came to past.

The introduction of firearms by the British to the Qing militaries instigated decades of massacre of the members of the Heaven and Earth Society. The Qing government created a special military corps to hunt the rebels, forcing them to go into exile, batch by batch in the late 19th century. Although this severely crippled the organisation, the rebellion did not shatter until the upsurge of the Chinese Communist Party in the early to mid 20th century.

By that time, most of the organisation's surviving members had either scuttled abroad, or was planning their escape to various countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom, Canada and United States of America.

Banished forever from their motherland, the members of the Triad reestablish their base at their new home. They were soon integrated into the Chinese communities overseas, established by earlier Chinese migrants. Initially, the presence of the Triad was welcome by existing Chinese migrants because they promote unity amongst the Chinese living abroad and safeguarded them from possible harm inflicted by the natives of their area of settlement.

Since the earlier migrants are usually made up of tradesmen and labourers, it was easy for fellows of the Triad to claim sovereignty over a territory. In return, the migrants were offered protection and societal order by the Triad.

After some years, the Triad members in various countries and regions lost touch with each other. Their descendants did not see the necessity of reconnecting, considering that they were thriving in their new land. Moreover, their dream of a Han Imperial government can never be fulfilled. All the groups that were originally part of the Triad rebranded themselves under new names and operated as independent groups.

Since the protection of law did not apply to migrants in many countries at that time, and the Triad was essentially the only form of organized structure with the Chinese society, when encountered with problems, the migrants will sought the help of the Triad. In return for their help, the migrants will give the Triad members a token of appreciation. This soon became a custom within the society.

Many able men, mostly labourers or “coolies” as they were often called, joined the local group of Triad members because they offer a familial environment that these single men crave. Thus, they grew more powerful with each influx of migrants.

As time goes, many Chinese tradesmen and businessmen solicited help from the Triad to protect their business and goods from the locals, bandits and other region’s Triad that may be employed by their competitors. More eminent Triads later entered into joint ventures, usually to conduct illegitimate or obnoxious businesses, with willing Chinese businessmen.

Unsurprisingly, as the local laws and government strengthen, it extends its subject to include the Chinese communities, and so the Chinese no longer need the protection of the Triads. The succeeding generations of Chinese see the Triad as corrupted and objectionable.

It was thus that pedigrees turned into outlaws and later became delinquents in the eyes of the general public. This is a brief account of the Saga of the Chinese Triad.


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Content copyright © 2014 by Michelle Lee. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Michelle Lee. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Inci Yilmazli for details.

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