Triad (underground society)

Triad refers to the many branches of Chinese Transnational organized crime organizations based in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and also in countries with significant Chinese populations, such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Etymology The term "Triad" was assumed to be coined by British authorities in colonial Hong Kong, as a reference to the triads' use of triangular imagery.[1] While never proven, it is "highly probable" that triad organizations either took after or were originally part of the revolutionary movement called the White Lotus Society. British Hong Kong (Chinese: ) refers to Hong Kong as a British Crown colony and, later, a British Dependent Territory under British administration from 1841 to 1997. White Lotus (? Pinyin: bailianjiao Wade-Giles: Pai-lien chiao) was a type of Buddhist sectarianism that appealed to many Han Chinese, who found solace in worship of the "Unborn or Eternal Venerable Mother" (trad.: , simplified: ), who was to gather all her children at the millennium into one family. The doctrine of the White Lotus included a forecast of the imminent advent of the future Buddha Maitreya. The first signs of the White Lotus Society came during the late thirteenth century. Mongol rule over China, known also by its dynastic name, the Yuan dynasty, prompted small, yet popular demonstrations against its rule. The White Lotus Society took part in some of these protests as they grew into widespread dissent.[1] The Mongols considered the White Lotus society a heterodox religious sect and banned it, forcing its members to go underground. Now a secret society, the White Lotus became an instrument of quasi-national resistance and religious organization. The White Lotus sect may have been one of the main ancestors of the Chinese organization known as the Triads. The Triads were originally members and soldiers of the Heaven and Earth Society during the period of the war betw en the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Triads formation was not for criminal purposes, the original purpose was to overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming to power. The White Lotus Society may have been one of five branches of the Heaven Earth Society which formed at the Shaolin temple by Ming Rebels and Loyalists. The Five branches known by some as the five ancestors were the Black, Red, White, Yellow, and Green Lodges. After there was no longer any need for Triads on the battlefield, some high level military leaders resorted to criminal activity in order to find means of survival as China's new age in history began. A revolution inspired by the White Lotus society, took shape in 1352 around Guangzhou. A Buddhist monk and former boy-beggar, Zhu Yuanzhang (Wade-Giles: Chu Yuan-chang), joined the rebellion. His exceptional intelligence took him to the head of a rebel army; he won people to his side by forbidding his soldiers to pillage in observance of White Lotus religious beliefs. By 1355 the rebellion had spread through much of China. In 1356, Zhu Yuanzhang captured the important city of Nanjing (then called Jiqing) and made it his capital, renaming it Yingtian . It was here that he began to discard his heterodox beliefs and so won the help of Confucian scholars who issued pronouncements for him and performed rituals in his claim of the Mandate of Heaven, the first step toward establishing new dynastic rule. Meanwhile the Mongols were fighting among themselves, inhibiting their ability to suppress the rebellion. In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang extended his rule to Guangzhou, the same year that the Mongol ruler, Toghan Temur, fled to Karakorum. In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang and his army entered the former capital of Beijing and in 1371 his army moved through Sichuan to the southwest. By 1387, after more than thirty years of war, Zhu Yuanzhang had liberated all of China. Having attained the Mandate of Heaven and the status of Emperor, he took the title Hongwu and founded a new dynasty - the Ming.

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Updated in February 2013