Hong Kong journalists marched on police headquarters yesterday to condemn what they said was heavy-handed policing during last week's visit to the city by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, describing it as an attack on press freedom. About 300 reporters and photographers, led by the Hong Kong Journalists Association, marched from the new government offices in Admiralty to the nearby police headquarters in one of the largest protests of its kind for several years. But a petition setting out their allegations that photographers and reporters were obstructed from doing their job was torn up. The journalists were frustrated that a police officer of too low a rank was sent to receive it. However, the force said it was willing to meet representatives of the association at a later date. The journalists say security measures put in place during Li's first official visit to the city were much more stringent than those during previous visits by mainland officials. Unusually, the force revealed that between 2,000 and 3,000 officers were tasked with protecting the vice-premier on each of the three days. But it declined to say how that compared to the numbers deployed during previous visits by high-level Beijing leaders. There are around 28,000 police officers in Hong Kong. In protocol terms, Li - who is expected to succeed Wen Jiabao as premier - would have been expected to have strict security in place. He left the city on Friday. A row also broke out over security measures imposed for Li's visit to the University of Hong Kong. Afterwards, its vice chancellor, Tsui Lap-chee, was forced to apologise to students. At yesterday's protest the journalists' association cast doubt over the sincerity of the police pledge to meet them. 'We will only meet if it is a senior officer,' said association chairwoman Mak Yin-ting. 'We need to talk with someone who can change and implement policies [on press arrangements]. The police said on Friday they would at least send a district commander. We question their attitude towards our demands.' The protesters fear that last week's security arrangements signal a change in the way the media is handled in general. The demonstrators pointed to the obstruction of photo-taking, stringent checks and the setting up of press areas far away from events as reasons for their concern. Yesterday's protesters also hit out at Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, who earlier dismissed as 'complete rubbish' the claims by journalists, and some politicians, that press freedom had been suppressed. Tang said the administration provided adequate media arrangements for each of the events during Li's visit. But Mak said: 'The so-called media arrangements are the edited videos and articles provided by the official media organisations. 'Did Tang mean the media should work as mouthpiece for the government in the future?' In response to the protest march and the criticism, Tang said he would respect the views of the journalists.