Hong Kong protesters have called for a fresh round of protests after talks with the city's government, aimed at defusing a standoff that sparked weeks of demonstrations, collapsed.

The city's chief secretary, Carrie Lam, said the talks scheduled for Friday were called 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.

The government's decision to call off the talks came as some lawmakers demanded anti-graft officers investigate a $6.4m business payout to the city's pro-Beijing leader while in office.

Friday: Thousands expected to gather at 1130GMT outside the city's government headquarters.

Mass rallies calling for democracy in the former British colony and the resignation of the city's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, paralysed parts of the financial hub for nearly two weeks.

Protester numbers have dwindled to just a few hundred at sites around the city, but activists have managed to keep up their blockade of some major roads, to the frustration of some city residents.

"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.

Reuters news agency reported that several hundred protesters were still camping in the heart of the city early on Friday and that numbers were expected to swell later in the day and over the weekend in response to the government's stance.

'Era of disobedience'

Thousands are expected to gather at 1130GMT on Friday outside the city's government headquarters.

Police have largely held off from trying to remove protesters from their barricades after the decision to fire teargas at demonstrators on September 28 caused widespread outrage and encouraged tens of thousands of angry residents to join the street protests.

Pro-democracy lawmakers also threw their weight behind the protesters on Thursday saying they would use their powers to disrupt the workings of the Hong Kong government inside the city's parliament by gridlocking the committees they currently control.

"Hong Kong has entered an era of disobedience and non-cooperation," said pro-democracy leader Alan Leong.

Handed back to Chinese rule in 1997, Hong Kong is governed under a "one country, two systems" deal that guarantees civil liberties not seen on the mainland, including freedom of speech and the right to protest.

Source: Agencies