I have often wondered about the mafia in China. I have asked lawyer friends about it and I usually get pretty much the same answer: “The Communist Party destroyed it and has continued to keep it at bay. It can have no rival. That’s in Hong Kong and Macao, not here.”
I was always skeptical.
Today, China Stakes ran a story, entitled, “China’s Mafia Economy Spreads Its Wings,” painting a much worse picture than what I had been told. The article focuses on Chongqing, which is “notorious” for its mafia influence. The numbers, if correct, are pretty stunning:
In 2008, loan sharking in Chongqing is estimated to have totaled over 30 billion yuan, equal to 1/3 of the city’s total fiscal income. The total assets of one gang reached over 3 billion yuan, a quarter of which came from loan sharking.
I have to say though that none of our clients have ever told us of having mafia problems in China, though I also have never asked.
So what is going on out there? How big is China’s mafia? Does it steer clear of foreign companies, particularly those from the West? Is it big in Chongqing, yet far less so elsewhere? What do you know? Let’s get a discussion going….
UPDATE: Interesting post, entitled, “Chongqing’s Judicial Chief Shot off Horse,” over at the Inside-out China blog. Post is on the downfall of a police chief who was long believed to be tightly connected to local gangs.