However, the formations of Chinese gangs in both countries are different. In the U.S., the identity crisis is the main factor that leads to gang formation.(Long, 1996). Asian immigrants often found themselves in a cultural conflict: while one stressed strict obedience, the other stressed independence and self-sacrifice, and the inability to reconcile the demands from two inconsistent identities became the cause of the formation of the gangs in the U.S(Long, 1996).
In other words, those people came together to realize self-recognition, and make profits together. Therefore, the scale of the gangs is relatively large and unbounded. Whereas in China, gangs are relatively small and exceptionally localized — they tend to limit the number of the members to between 50 and 200 people(Long, 1996), because China’s central government is very protective of its position as centralizing force in the country. That is, China’s central government has no tolerance of nationwide underground groups that have abilities to challenge the central government. Since gangs by their natures are forces that challenge the baseline of the central government, they tend to draw attention from the central government, but only when they grow large enough to pose a considerable threat(T. Wing Lo, 2010); they can stay out of government’s radar, as long as they remain in fairly small size.
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Moreover, Chinese gangs in the U.S. and in China have completely different models. There are two models of the gangs: structure-control model and social network model(T. Wing Lo, 2010). Gangs in mainland China is social-network-model-based. In this model, guanxi, which means personal relationship and reciprocal obligation developed through a particular social network(T. Wing Lo, 2010), is essential, which plays a vital role in illegal business. Guanxi provides a huge number of opportunities for the gangs to obtain benefits illegally and commit crimes without punishment.
For example, the godmother of the Chongqing underworld, Xie Caiping was the only female gang boss in southern China. As the head of moneylending company and more than 10 illegal gambling dens, without police’s crackdown, her gang had made 293,000 dollars since September 2004(NBCNews, 2009). The reason why she could commit crimes without police intervention is that as the sister-in-law of Wen Qiang who was Chongqing deputy police chief, she created a guanxi with the local police. Under the guanxi with Wen, Xie even developed corrupt networks within police at different levels – Peng Changjian, deputy police director required low-ranking police officers not to interrupt Xie’s gambling businesses(Li, 2009), which enabled her to establish a gambling house in a hotel next to the prosecutor’s office(Branigan, 2010).
Therefore, Xie’s illegal businesses were shielded and became immensely cost-effective. On the other hand, almost all Chinese gangs in the U.S. are structure-control-model- based, which emphasizes that organized crime is facilitated by a cohesive triad structure and tight internal control(T. Wing Lo, 2010). Specifically, structure-control model not only stresses loyalty to the gangs and sworn brotherhood but also emphasizes the oaths, rules and central control within the gangs. This type of controlling mechanism restrains gang members in what they should and should not do, and how they implement the tasks without drawing attention from the police, and reinforces the cohesiveness within the gangs. Contrast to the gangs in China, as immigrants in the U.S, when they don’t have a strong connection with the local authorities, they have to maintain a comparatively peaceful environment for illegal money-making, because any violence would attract police attention.
For instance, the Flying Dragon, which was the enforcement arm of Hip Sing Tong, was one of the most powerful gangs in Chinatown in New York City. The Tongs were legitimate merchants’ associations, which functioned like the self-help organization of immigrant groups, providing protection against the larger society(Research Directorate, 2006), but they also possessed affiliated groups, which were gangs, to implement illegal activities.
Under the regulation of the Hip Sing Tong, the Flying dragon remained unnoticeable by the police before the police caught it’s head Johnny Eng; only after the capture of Johnny Eng, the local police realized that the Flying Dragons were an extremely violent gang, which not only involved in drug trafficking, but also involved in kidnapping, arson, murder and illegal gambling.
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