Triad King of Shanghai - Du Yuesheng | China History


In the last video we explored the originators of the Triads, the tiandihui.

Today, we are taking a step back into the early 20th Century to look at the man who became the definition of what a modern Triad leaders strive to be.

Introducing the Chinese Al Capone of Shanghai, Du YueSheng!

Before Du YueSheng's rise to power within the green gang triad, the group was originally started by out of work boatmen in Tianjin and Shanghai.

Their knowledge of China's major river ways and shipping routes meant that they became deeply involved in the smuggling game.

Early modern Shanghai with a complex international jurisdiction, shipping ports as well as a close proximity to Hong Kong created the ideal hub for smuggling and the opium trade.

As a result, Shanghai became home for the green gang and many other Triad organisations.

The story of Du Yuesheng, the man who would one day become the King pin of Shanghai, starts in the slums of Pudong.

Du was born in 1888, and as a teenager travelled into Shanghai proper to begin working as an errand boy for a fruit a vendor.

His love of opium and willingness to break the law led him to Join the Shanghai Green gang in the early 1910's.

He befriended the gang leader Huang Jinrong, who was not only an extremely powerful mobster but also the highest ranking Chinese Detective for the French Police.

From Huang, Du a violent man by nature quickly learned the ropes of mafia enforcement and opium peddling.

From here Du's rise to becoming the most powerful Triad boss in Shanghai was quick, and it happened as a direct result of three incidents.

The first occurred when Huang Jinrong was officially arrested, and Du came to his aid to bail him out.

As Huang was now viewed as possibly weak, he handed over all of criminal resources to Du.

this gave Du full control over not only illegal activity such as gambling, drugs and prostitution, but also over various legitimate businesses as well.

The second opportunity came in 1917 when British enforces officially stopped importing Opium into China.

At the turn of the century, opium had a major part of Chinese society.

An estimated 150 million people or . . . . . .

3 tenths of the entire Chinese population were either occasional opium users or complete opium addicts.

That's 4 or 5 times larger the population of England during that same era.

In 1917, a third of all Hong Kong's entire revenue was derived in some way from Opium.

So despite England no longer supplying the drug, the Chinese people still needed their fix.

The Green gang, with their intimate knowledge of the smuggling trade saw their chance and started flooding the market.

By the 1920's Du Yuesheng as well as other smaller triad groups were bringing in an estimated 10 tons of opium and heroin into China from Japan and Europe.

Controlling the supply of China's favourite drug and the money gained by doing so established Du Yuesheng as one of the most powerful criminals in not only Shanghai, but of all China.

At the same time the Chinese Civil War was taking place between Mao Zedong's Communist Army and Chiang Kaishek's Nationalist Forces.

Chiang Kaishek had a large hand in the Shanghai underworld assisting in the creation and maintenance of Triad gangs which he in turn was able to utilise for generating money as well as hired muscle.

When the Communist party began instigating labour strikes in Shanghai, Chiang kaishek reached out to Du Yuesheng and the Green Gang to put an end to it.

April 12, 1927, a day that is now known as the Shanghai Massacre, Du and his men took to the streets and began slaughtering hundreds if not thousands of communist sympathisers.

It apparently took eight truckloads to remove all of the dead bodies from the streets and when the smoke cleared Du Yuesheng became a Triad leader of unrivalled power.

The nationalist party celebrated Du as a Chinese hero, and in turn Du sort to become a legitimate member of the social elite.

Despite being mostly illiterate, Du founded his own bank, called the Chugn wai bank, became the director of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and was also a board member for the French Municipal Council, the Shanghai Chamber of commerce, the Chinese branch of the Red Cross and the Bank of China.

Du Yuesheng was a Triad king and Shanghai was his kingdom.

Things all started to change though, In 1937, during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai when Du was forced to flee Despite travelling to multiple places, he continued the opium trade and maintained a tight grip on his gang.

After Japan was defeated, Du returned to Shanghai only to find that it was again taken over 5 years later by Mao Zedong and his communist forces.

Mao Zedong was strongly against Triads and the drug trade and sort to rid China of both their influences, but before Du could be arrested and prosecuted he was lucky enough to escape to Hong Kong.

His mentor Huang Jinrong was not so fortunate.

He was captured by Mao forced to confess to his wrong doings and as a bizarre punishment he was order to sweep the streets in front of a building he once owned.

Huang Jinrong swept those street for three years before finally passing away.

Du himself spent those three years comfortably exiled in Hong Kong, and just as he decided it was safe to return to his home in Shanghai, he died of an opium related illness in 1951.

This marked the end of Du Yuesheng's reign, but it was not the end of the Triads.

Through his work, Du defined what a modern Triad could be.

Many have followed in Du's footsteps since his death and the criminal underworld has only become more powerful.

During the time since his passing many gangs have risen, fallen and have been long since forgotten, but the legacy and life of criminal Du Yuesheng will outlive us all.

So thank you for watching another one of my videos don't forget to like comment and definitely subscribe, Next week we will look at modern Triads, but in the meantime Don't forget to watch my previous video on the Tiandihui the very first triad gang in Chinese history.

Once again, thank you so much for watching, I'm WooKong and goodbye.