By Bertil Lintner
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Extra info for Blood brothers: Crime, business and politics in Asia
But India was the main producer of the drug for international trading. Some of India’s Mughal emperors had tried to tax opium sales to raise revenue for the state. However, no single organisation in any part of Asia had the will, the networks or the political and naval power to create new markets before the advent of the colonial powers. Britain’s move to colonise India and other parts of Asia heralded a new era in international opium trading. In 1600, the East India Company had been formed with the aim of expanding trade contacts between Britain and Asia, and between British spheres of influence in the Far East.
Like so many other petty criminals, he combined his opium peddling with being an informer for the police—and that was how he had met the pock-marked Inspector Huang. They were members of the same gang, although Du belonged, through the lineage connected with his surname and background, to a younger generation than Huang. Notwithstanding this, the powerful gangland detective decided that he liked the urchin from Pudong, and let him sleep in a room behind the kitchen in his mansion in a lane off Boulevard des deux Républiques.
The almost surreal quality of the French Concession was further enhanced by the presence of large numbers of Russian refugees. The Communist victory in the Russian civil war had forced tens of thousands of people who remained loyal to the Tsar—hence the nickname ‘White’ Russians—to flee. The wealthiest ended up in Paris, London and New York, but those without money and contacts, and thousands of soldiers who had been trapped in the Russian Far East, crossed into Manchuria to settle in the city of Harbin.