Sea-Land Service Inc. will begin a regional feeder service Saturday to meet growing demand in thriving southern China.

It will link Hong Kong's containerport with Yantian, just north of the colony, and the special economic zone of Xiamen in Fujian province."We are very pleased to announce this new service," Richard Pearson, general manager of Sea-Land, said Thursday. "With the support of Yantian International Container Terminals Ltd., our company will provide quality and efficient services to our clients."

The Singapore-registered Explorer, with capacity equivalent to 419 20-foot boxes, will be used on the weekly feeder run. The vessel will return to Hong Kong to connect with oceangoing services to the United States, Europe, Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Sea-Land, a unit of CSX Corp. of Richmond, Va., has a vessel-sharing arrangement with Maersk Line on its weekly service from Yantian to Long Beach, Calif. Maersk, part of Denmark's A.P. Moller group, holds 10 percent of Yantian's equity.

To support the new feeder service, Sea-Land's branch office in the Chinese special economic zone of Shenzhen was moved from Shekou to Yantian earlier this month.

"We are delighted that Sea-Land has chosen Yantian to launch its feeder service," said Kenneth Tse, terminal manager. "Yantian is designed to answer shipping lines' need for a convenient, cost-effective and congestion-free transportation hub in southern China.

"To provide an even more quality service, we have assigned special personnel to assist shippers to follow up on customs declarations and clearance procedures."

The Yantian complex is managed by Hutchison Delta Ports, a subsidiary of Hutchison International Port Holdings Ltd. Its chief component is Hongkong International Terminals Ltd., the dominant box-handler in Hong Kong.

Since operations began a year ago, Yantian has signed user agreements with Maersk, Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation of London; Orient Overseas Container Line Ltd. of Hong Kong; the American President Lines arm of American President Cos. of Oakland, Calif., and a local division of China Ocean Shipping Co., the government-owned principal mainland carrier.

Yantian offers services to Europe and North America, plus feeder services to southern Chinese ports including Xiamen, Zhongshan, Fuzhou and Shantou. There also is a daily express shuttle service to Hong Kong.

Mr. Tse said the complex plans to expand its feeder network to other ports in the Pearl River delta of Guangdong province.

Hutchison is creating a necklace of southern Chinese ports. It has similar deals at Zhuhai and Nanhai, a river port at the northern end of the delta near Guangzhou. Its operation at Shantou, another special economic zone, serves eastern Guangdong.

The Pearl River links Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, with Hong Kong and is a route for much of the growing traffic in both directions. Having feeder ports there also may ease some congestion in Hong Kong.