In another installment of famous Chinese gangsters we move away from the mainland to Taiwan to discuss one of their most notable underworld leaders: Hsu Hai-Ching.
Hsu Hai-ching, or as he would eventually become known, Mosquito brother, AKA the Final Arbitrator of the Underworld (which is about as badass as it gets), was born in 1913 in Taiwan. His gang activity started fairly early with him participating in a gang in the Wanhua district of Taipei in the 1930s. Hsu’s fluency in Japanese also helped him advance his role as a gang leader, not only was Taiwan still a colony of Japan at that time, but his language skills allowed Hsu to establish connections with similar Japanese organizations. Hsu’s real rise to power came after the Kuomintang fled to Taiwan. When Chiang Kai Shek started to establish his own government in Taiwan he often relied on local gangs, or the mercenary thugs who came with him to enforce policies and crush dissenters.
Hsu Hai-Ching was in the upper echelons of the Bamboo Union gang, which gained a huge amount of power during that time and remains the largest gang in Taiwan today with an estimated 10,000 members worldwide. The bamboo Union’s activities are similar to many other criminal organizations; they run various types of businesses–some are believed to be legitimate, while others allegedly include prostitution rings, human and drug trafficking as well as financial crimes. Worryingly, it is not unusual for gangsters to run for positions in government or hold political offices. Hsu-Hai-Ching was no exception to this rule, he became a Taipei city councilor in 1950, even when still involved in the Bamboo Union’s activities. Hsu’s actual “accomplishments” in the Bamboo Union remain uncertain except for the fact that he was renowned for settling disputes within his gang as well as when negotiating with others, leading to his nickname “the Final Arbitrator”.
Hsu Hai-Ching seems to be one of the few gangsters who actually retired and lived peacefully in his old age. Although it remains to be seen what he actually did in his twilight years, it doesn’t appear that he had any active role in he Bamboo Union or other illegal activites after his official retirement in the 1980s. Hsu Hai-Ching’s death itself was unremarkable, albeit uncomfortable. He died at 93 on April 6, 2005, from complications caused from choking on a piece of sushi 12 days earlier. However, it was Mosquito Brother’s funeral held on May 29, 2005 that showed how powerful he once was in the Asian underworld. An estimated 10,000 underworld figures attended the event, including representatives from Macau and Hong Kongs’ triads as well as members of the Yamaguchi-gumi, one of the main Yakuza organizations in Japan.
The funeral included a procession in which gang-members carried Hsu’s ashes 10 km from Taipei to a cemetary outside of the city.The procession was so large that it created a major traffic jam which in turn disrupted 50,000 students’ high school entrance exams. Police were worried that violence would be inevitable with so many criminals present, so hundreds of officers also attended the event to ensure peace but their fears never materialized. Taiwan’s four largest gangs, including the Bamboo Union, the Four Seas, and the Celestial Way, had all agreed to a truce day, promising that there would be no fighting or violence at all between gangs or gang members. While it may have seemed like a simple act, a truce like this shows that Hsu’s ability to arbitrate was so strong that it carried on even after his death.
Cover image from takungpao.com