Big Circle Gang
Tai Huen Chai (大圈仔). Big Circle Boys is perhaps the most progressive of the organized Triad of the modern time, post revolution 1949. The Big Circle Gang (大圈幫) is the designation given to its soldier members. The highest ranks equivalent to Commander or Commissar were generally involved in legitimate business, gaming and a number in the position of Lutsze-yeh a managing or controlling lawyer's clerk.
The early 1950s when Left Wing Communists, were purged completely at all levels of the CPC, to Stalin’s birthday in 1951 where Mao is reported to have ordered the execution of some 50,000 intellectuals, women communists, straight and gay communist men and lesbians and 3rd gender were executed in one night – mainly shot in their bunks at the camps they survived.
Expelled from society the left was continuously purged facing at any stage summary execution, exile, banishment to home village or interned in prison camps. In order to identify the political nature of those interned and in an attempt to maintain like faction 'anarchist/Communist', those whose camps which later housed the Left Faction of the Red Guards were marked as politically subversive to the state and dependent on size and location an exclusion area was effected around the camps. The exclusion areas around the camps were marked on PLA and internal state maps by a large printed red circle;
The organizations that survived developed and much changed under intolerable conditions, with Anarchist/Communists being able to base in Hong Kong with some of the venerable leadership of the party from the Trotskyists and Anarchists. The more proletarian elements as well as utopian fighters formed a series of underground and secret societies fashioned after a Triad (traditional social and civic mutual protection organisation between clans; its organisation secret from authorities).
Subject to much folklore and movie distortion, violent centers evolved along the porous border with Colonial British Hong Kong with small groups of highly motivated, well financed, trained and highly educated groups formed out of the core factions.
Some such as the smaller splinter groups found lucrative business in the 80s through the utilisation of shock tactics in brazened but well crafted robberies throughout Hong Kong and Kowloon on jewelers shops, manufacturers, businessmen, politicians, and a number of lawyers and civil servants.
By its peak in the 1990s it is estimated that the THC commanded the loyalty of up to 50,000 people across Hong Kong and Guangzhou; known as the boss of the bosses their political weight turned to a more opposed and direct approach after the tide of capital turned on the fall of the Soviet Union. Joint intelligence exercises were followed up with trappings and summarily execution of the main members of THC and high profile trials of the leadership.
The period was the agreed sino-British talks where the question of internal and SAR border security were discussed as well as the means by which to strike against secret societies/t'ongs in the run up to the return of patriotic Hong Kong to the motherland.
Some sections of the THC advocated acquiescence whilst mainly more younger and aggressive groups with links throughout Africa, Europe and the Americas been built up for generations through migration in all major advance nations at this time opposed such. With small splinters of the main US/Canada/Hong Kong/Malay societies together with political groups such as Hong Kong's Proletarian Society acquiesced to the patriotic call.
Certain groups continued financing raids until for example the charm of Yip Kai-foon an alleged 438 ranking of one THC group ran out a year before the 'Handover'and he as with nearly all leadership of the 'Old' DHJ had been captured, 'killed' or had never been fully identified.
This was a generalised condition that had come into existence after the change of status of capitalism by the CPC to a national form incorporating a layer of rich, the new bourgeois of factory owners to speculators, hoarders and straight thieves of political and business responsibility that became sino-property ownership of the remaining key sectors of industry still under name of the state.
Organisations such as DHJ and as with the left-wing inherently were no longer seen as the community or civic brotherhoods they once were, previously these societies were the mainstay providers in Kowloon communities of social and distributive services covering; social security, medicare and funds for distressed wives, pensions, education allowances, free law advice, schools and clinics. All such services, bar a few community or third sector law agencies, were disbanded as the annihilation of the leaderships opposed to the secession swung into operations. Young, more capitalist oriented leaders arose to fill the void. Whilst remnant groups withered away others had a very brutal life ended in kind by state brutality. Linked to the successful annihilation of the T'ong leaders in the THC groups was the renovations of the main areas of the DHJ in Kowloon, Mongkok, Yaumatei and Kowloon City where the destruction of the old no go areas for the state existed. The nature of the Triad and, Triads of new, moved over to a newer generation of youth without the education, tradition nor history to lead a Triad. With little to do with the principled basis of the Triad.
The like once described by Mao as a useful section of society to rely on but apt to be violent. (Analysis of the classes 1920). The imprisonment of so-called triad or Triads chiefs prove almost impossible through the late 80’s and 90s as the number of educated – some highly so – took control of law firms, established their own under a rented solicitor and in effect maintained business as usual with an important adjunct to physical armament in the form of a law firm.
Dai Kan, the reputed ‘God of Sze-yeh', the DC clan, alongside small teams of clerks, some former HKP or its Correctional Department with willing solicitors and Barrister some of whom were openly identified as senior Triad officers and independents that evolved their own separate clerking operations, dominated the criminal legal field for the entire 1990s. With a counterpart in barristers and silks uninvolved at any level in organized crime who conducted the defences; often provided for in written submission form; one set of whom were referred to as the ‘Kiwi Mafia’.
Alleged westerner Hak-mao (Black Cat) then said to be a 415 rank of THC is believed to have channeled over HK150 million into criminal defence cases over a decade using law firm bills; that were passed by courts; in order to finance some of the largest criminal trials in the 90s. Hak-mao who is said to be a trained lawyer and Dai Kan were known to be the source of big clients and have access to funds for cases including the Appeals of Yip Kai Foon.
Building on extensive literature and interview data, Alex Chung, a scholar from Oxford focused on the Big Circle Boys and the case of the ‘Flaming Eagles’, a group of some ten associations of the Big Circle Boys, the primary activity of which was the smuggling and trafficking of heroin from the ‘Golden Triangle’ region to the United States. Chung argued that the Big Circle Boys is a loosely affiliated group of gangs rather than a unified criminal group. Members often operate in autonomous mini-pyramids with small cells, engaging in illegal activities independently and co-operating only when necessary.
Since 2000, there have not been many reports on the Big Circle Boys, thus it seems extremely difficult to obtain the clear map of its criminal activities worldwide in recent years. Hong Kong and Western enforcement agencies currently tend to label criminals originating from Guangzhou or other parts of China as 'Asian criminals' in a generic manner instead of calling them as ‘Big Circle Boys’. In the past 10 years, more and more Chinese immigrants from different provinces can be found in Hong Kong and Western Societies, which seems to be the main concern of Western and Hong Kong agencies to label the Big Circle Boys in a generic manner.
- Interview with Hak-mao in his Mongkok Law office June 2011.
- Chung, Alex (2008). "The big circle boys: Revisiting the case of the flaming eagles". Global Crime 9 (4): 306–331.
- Wang, Peng (2011). "Vicious circles - Gang legacy of the Cultural Revolution". Jane's Intelligence Review 23 (08): 46–49.
- "Big Circle Boys born of Red Guards: Drugs, loansharking among Asian gang's specialities". Vancouver Sun. June 10, 2005.
- Chinese Organized Crime and Illegal Alien Trafficking: Humans as a Commodity (US Department of State)
- High-ranking Big Circle Boy killed in Vancouver (Global TV)
- Raid revealed extortion gang's strength (Sydney Morning Herald)
- 2 Men Charged in Chinatown Gang Death New York Times (December 30, 1995)