There is growing speculation that direct shipping links between Taiwan and China will start before Hong Kong's handover to Beijing on July 1. Industry sources said: 'This is the strong expectation in the industry as representatives from Taiwan and China are meeting over this issue in Hong Kong on January 22.' As expectation mounts, the Hong Kong Shippers' Council will lead a delegation of shippers, freight forwarders and shipping line executives on a four-day visit to Xiamen feeder port in Fujian province for a fact-finding mission from January 15. China's Ministry of Communications had designated Xiamen as a port for future direct shipping links with Taiwan. Council director Clement Yeung said that the council, in co-operation with Fairyoung Port Investment, was organising the visit to improve understanding of the port's development and the transport services available in that area. The delegation will visit Xiangyu Container Terminals and the port area. It will also hold discussions with port officials and operators.