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The Triad (三合會) is a collective term that describes many branches of the underground society based in Hong Kong. It is engaged in all forms of organized crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal gambling, prostitution and other means of racketeering[?]. A major source of Triad income today is from counterfeiting products of intellectual property, such as computer software, music CDs and movie VCDs/DVDs. With the size of membership numbered in hundreds of thousands, it is estimated that about 5% of Hong Kong's male adult population holds some kind of Triad membership, although that figure cannot be verified.

Following the fall of the Qing Dynasty of China in 1911, followers of the original Taiping Rebellion (太平天國│洪門) suddenly found themselves lost with purposes. Worse yet, they somehow managed to miss out on the opportunity to participate in the actual uprising, and many of them were left angry and depressed. Unable to revert to normal civilian lives after spending years living under grave danger and extreme violence, many ex-rebels reunited to form a cult which later came to be known as the Triad. Having lost the usual donations and support from the public after the collapse of the Qing empire, members of the newly formed cult resorted to money extortion from the unwilling public through all possible and even illegal means.

After the Communist Party of China took power in 1949, Mainland China was put under strict law enforcement and organized crime diminished. This is when the Triad migrated south to the British colony of Hong Kong for the continuation of their business. It is interesting to note that when the sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed over by the UK to the PRC in 1997, a top official of the PRC central law enforcement agency publicly acknowledged his acceptance of the Triad, stating that many of its members were patriotic to the motherland. Whether that was the government stance or merely a personal opinion remains unknown.

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