The Green Gang (青幫) was established in 1726 by Wengyan (翁岩), Qianjian (钱坚) and Boqing (潘清), three followers of the Luojiao (羅教) folk religion. In its early years many members of the group were connected to the transport industry along the Grand Canal, as a result the group was also referred to initially as the Grain Shipping Society (糧船幫).
By the 20th century it had acquired such wealth and power that it had become corrupt, and included many successful businessmen. Under Du Yuesheng, it controlled the criminal activities in the entire city of Shanghai. The Green Gang focused on opium (which was supported by local warlords), extortion, gambling, and prostitution. Shanghai was considered by some the vice capital of the world at that time.
The Green Gang was often hired by Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang to break up union meetings and labor strikes and was also involved in the Chinese Civil War. Carrying the name of the Society for Common Progress, it was — along with other criminal gangs — responsible for the White Terror massacre of approximately 5,000 pro-Communist strikers in Shanghai in April 1927, which was ordered by Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek. Chiang granted Du Yuesheng the rank of general in the National Revolutionary Army later.
The Green Gang was a major financial supporter of Chiang Kai-shek, who became acquainted with the gang when he lived in Shanghai from 1915 to 1923. The Green Gang shared its profits from the drug trade with the Kuomintang after the creation of the Opium Suppression Bureau.
- Wilber, C.M. (1985) The Nationalist Revolution in China, 1923 -1928, Cambridge University Press, p.104
- Mitter, R. (2004) A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle With the Modern World, Oxford University Press, p145
- "For two years (1916–17) he lived in Shanghai, where he apparently belonged to the Green Gang (Qing Bang), a secret society involved in financial manipulations." (Encyclopædia Britannica entry for Chiang Kai-Shek)
The Shanghai Green Gang: Politics and Organized Crime, 1919-1937 by Brian G. Martin is a scholarly account of their most important period.
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