Baton charges and volleys of tear gas might be common enough tactics in New York or London, but not in Asia's leading international financial center. The rapid escalation of the protests over the weekend and the police's strong-arm response shocked locals, and triggered a -2% fall in the city's benchmark Hang Seng stock index on Monday morning as investors worried about the impact of continued unrest on Hong Kong's markets, its economy and its future as Beijing's laboratory of choice for China's financial liberalization.
Only a few weeks ago it seemed that Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement was a spent force. After Beijing ruled out open elections for the chief executive of the territory's government, the leader of Occupy Central admitted that his civil disobedience movement's pursuit of democracy had "failed". However, Hong Kong's students and high school pupils failed to take heed. Last Friday a group of around 200 stormed security fences blocking off the 'Civic Square' outside the government's headquarters to stage a sit-down protest against official obduracy.