Hong Kong’s leader said Tuesday that China won’t back down from its decision to limit voting reforms in the Asian financial hub, dashing hopes that the standoff between demonstrators and authorities could be resolved quickly through negotiations.

As pro-democracy protests that have blocked Hong Kong’s streets entered a fifth day, the unequivocal statement from Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying does not come as a surprise. Showing a willingness to talk would have made the Chinese leadership in Beijing appear weak, which could embolden dissidents and separatists on the mainland.

Leung, a Beijing appointee who is deeply mistrusted by the people, said that mainland communist leaders would not reverse their August decision requiring a pro-Beijing panel to screen candidates in the territory’s first direct elections, scheduled for 2017.

There was no immediate response from Occupy Central, the main civil disobedience group, but said in a tweet that the broader prodemocracy movement had set a Wednesday deadline for Leung meet their demands, which include genuine democracy and his resignation. It said it would “announce new civil disobedience plans same day,” without elaborating.

Despite Leung’s urgings that they disperse and go home, thousands of people — many of them university and high school students — gathered on a six-lane highway next to the local government headquarters.

The protesters’ chief demand is that they don’t want Beijing to screen nominees for Hong Kong’s leadership elections. They see the central government as reneging on a promise that the chief executive would eventually be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

Student leaders planned to make their own announcement Tuesday about further plans and demands.

Even larger crowds are expected to flood the streets Wednesday, China’s National Day holiday. The government said it was canceling a fireworks display to mark the day.

Officials announced that schools in some districts of Hong Kong would remain closed today because of safety concerns, while dozens of bus routes were canceled and some subway stops near protest areas were closed.

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