Within Albania and China and their respective diasporas, a history of extreme violence, both official and unofficial, is widely accepted but not easily understood from a Western perspective. Over the course of centuries both societies have experienced turmoil and in the 20th century spent decades under the disastrous communist dictatorships of Enver Hohxa (1944–1985) and Mao Zedong (1949–1976). Acts of organised/collective violence should be interpreted in their historical and cultural contexts. As both Albania and China underwent considerable internecine feuding, and all manners of deprivations and oppressions under the governance
and proclamations of their various rulers, it may not be surprising that their subjects became inured to violence. Violence is neither meaningless nor peculiar to China/Albania. One explanation arises from the continuing purchase of ancient codes of ‘extreme violence’. This paper describes two ancient instruments justifying ‘excessive violence’ that have continued to exist even today and directly link them to the violent behaviour of contemporary Albanian and Chinese organised crime groups. The paper will explore the historico-cultural origins of Albanian and
Chinese organised crime and their recent reputation as ‘ultra-violent’ actors. Specifically we examine the 15th century Albanian legal code known as the Kanun of Lek Dukagjini, and the 17th century code of the Chinese Hung Mun (Triad Society).