BEIJING (AFP) - The official mouthpiece of China's ruling Communist party said on Friday that authorities will not make concessions to pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and that their cause is "doomed to fail".
Students whose peaceful protests have paralysed parts of the global financial hub have agreed to hold talks with the government while vowing to continue their occupation, as the city's under-fire leader refused to stand down.
But the protesters' demands for unfettered elections are "neither legal nor reasonable", said the People's Daily newspaper, in a defiant front-page editorial.
China's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress, ruled in August that candidates for Hong Kong elections would be selected by a committee, a move slammed by protesters as "fake democracy".
The People's Daily said that: "Upholding the decision of the standing committee of the National People's Congress is the necessary decision, and the only decision." The protests are "against legal principles, and doomed to fail", it added.
Analysts say that Beijing is wary of granting protesters' demands, as it fears that backing down in the face of demonstrations could create a precedent for public protest which would be unacceptable to the Communist leadership.
Huge crowds have shut down central areas of the Chinese city with mass sit-ins all week and had set a midnight Thursday deadline for Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying to quit and for Beijing to guarantee the former British colony full democracy.
With his office besieged by thousands of protesters and tensions with police high, a defiant Leung appeared minutes before midnight rejecting calls to go, but offered talks to one prominent student group in a bid to break the impasse.
The chief executive said he would appoint Chief Administration Secretary Carrie Lam to lead talks with the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), one of several groups behind the demonstrations in the financial hub.
In a statement released early Friday, HKFS said they would meet Lam but renewed calls for Leung's resignation, vowing to continue their occupation if their demands were not met.