HONG KONG - Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong clashed with police outside government offices as tensions ran high on Friday morning, despite an eleventh-hour agreement for talks, as China said the demonstrators were "doomed to fail".
Although most overnight demonstrators had gone home by the morning, more than 100 remained outside the government complex which is now the focal point of protests that have brought parts of the city to a standstill for five days.
Demonstrators are sceptical over what can be gained by the discussions with the government of Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying, which were agreed late Thursday to defuse escalating tensions as crowds demanded Leung's resignation.
And on Friday, China reiterated its tough stance ahead of the first popular ballot in 2017 to choose the Hong Kong leader, saying there was "no room to make concessions on important principles".
Police pushed through around 100 demonstrators who were blocking an exit on Friday morning, saying that a seriously ill officer needed to be let out in an ambulance. In chaotic scenes, protesters refused to move shouting "liar, liar," in response to the request to move, with police finally forcing their way through to make a path for the ambulance.
Relations between protesters and police have deteriorated since tear gas was fired to disperse crowds last Sunday and boxes carrying rubber bullets were seen being carried by officers on Thursday.
Students vowed to continue their occupation after Leung announced that the government was willing to hold talks with them. Many are still demanding that the leader step down - and are not impressed by his nomination of his deputy to represent the government in the talks.
"I think he is avoiding people who are voicing their views," Abigail Hon, 19, told AFP on Friday morning. "From now on I am going to stay overnight. We hope that Leung can face the problem and respond to what we demand right now," she said, adding that she wants Leung to speak directly with the students.
The Occupy Central group said it welcomed the talks, adding it hoped they would "provide a turning point in the current political stalemate".
It was not clear when the talks would start.