Tiandihui

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Description:
The Tiandihui is a fraternal organization that originated in China. The Hongmen grouping is today more or less synonymous with the whole Tiandihui concept, although the title "Hongmen" is also claimed by some criminal groups.

As the Tiandihui spread through different counties and provinces, it branched off into many groups and became known by many names, including the Hongmen and Sanhehui.

When the British ruled Hong Kong, all Chinese secret societies were seen as a criminal threat and together defined as "triads", although the Hongmen might be said to have differed in its nature from others. The name of the "Three Harmonies Society" (the "Sanhehui" grouping of the Tiandihui) is in fact the source of the term "Triad" that has become synonymous with Chinese organized crime.

Because of that heritage, the Tiandihui is sometimes controversial and is illegal in Hong Kong.

In the Western world, the Tiandihui has sometimes adopted the name "Chinese Freemasons", on the basis of the strong superficial parallels between the two; both have quasi-religious aspects, make use of esoteric symbolism, and include many factions. However, they have different ethical systems, different origins, and different purposes.

History

According to Kelvin Bechkam Chow, a member of the organization, the Tiandihui was founded during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (1654—1722). However, independent research concludes that the Tiandihui was...
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