Hong Kong student protesters said on Friday they were determined to maintain their campaign for full democracy, undaunted by the city government's rejection of talks aimed at defusing a standoff that has shaken communist China's capitalist hub.
The government's decision to call off the talks with the students scheduled for Friday came as democratic lawmakers demanded anti-graft officers investigate a $6.4 million business payout to the city's pro-Beijing leader while in office.
The city's chief secretary, Carrie Lam, said the talks were off because of the students' unswerving demands for universal suffrage, which she said was not in accordance with the city's mini-constitution, and what she described as their illegal occupation of parts of the city and calls for people to rally.
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Several hundred protesters were camped in the heart of the financial center early on Friday, with many expecting crowds to swell over the weekend in response to the government's stand.
"This is something we have to do when we are young. It's a process of short-term pain for long-term gain," John Wong, an 18-year-old university student, said at the main protest site in Hong Kong's central Admiralty district.
China's Communist Party leaders rule the former British territory through a "one country, two systems" formula which allows wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland and specifies universal suffrage as an eventual goal.