Thousands of secondary school and university students have boycotted classes in Hong Kong, in the latest pro-democracy protests, as a recording of Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam emerges, saying she would quit if she could.

At the closed-door meeting, Ms Lam told the group she had "very limited" room to resolve the crisis because the unrest had become a national security and sovereignty issue for China amid rising tensions with the US.

"If I have a choice," she said, speaking in English, "the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology."

But Ms Lam later denied she ever asked the Chinese Government to let her resign to end the crisis.

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