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Chinese word meaning "hall" or "parlor," in the sense of a society or association. Most Chinese "tongs" were men's fraternal or social organizations that existed to provide benevolent services to their members.

In recent times the word "tong" has come to have a negative connotation because of its association with the term "tong war", referring to armed conflicts between rival Chinese groups seeking to control illegal activities such as gambling, opium smoking, and prostitution.

From a historical point of view its original meaning needs to be kept in mind.