Hong Kong authorities have stepped up security as a high-ranking Chinese government official attends a business conference, preventing pro-democracy protesters from getting close to the venue.

Local media said as many as 8,000 police officers were being deployed Wednesday for the visit by Zhang Dejiang, the Communist Party's No. 3 official. He's the most senior Chinese official to come to Hong Kong in five years.

About 100 protesters chanted slogans demanding Beijing stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs and burned a sign calling for Zhang to be kicked out of Hong Kong as they marched toward the convention center where Zhang was giving a keynote speech.

The protesters were stopped by a police security cordon that included hundreds of water-filled plastic barriers and metal barricades.