DRAGONAIR has begun recruiting air hostesses in China because of what it sees as a shortage of fluent Mandarin speakers in Hongkong. The Hongkong airline has taken on 15 flight attendants from Shanghai and is now looking to recruit another 10 from elsewhere in China. If this trial is successful, Dragonair intends to fill future vacancies with mainland staff. The mainlanders will be employed on exactly the same terms as recruits from Hongkong, with a starting wage of $6,000 a month. Dragonair began its recruitment campaign by placing a Mandarin advertisement in a Shanghai newspaper. More than 3,000 applicants were received. But the airline was disappointed by the quality of the applicants. ''Hardly any could speak English,'' said Dragonair spokeswoman Jacqui Donaldson. ''They didn't have the qualifications we needed.'' Dragonair insists its new recruits, needed to work on services to and from the mainland, should be fluent in both Mandarin and English. Consequently, only five were offered jobs from the first round of interviews. A second advertisement was placed, this time in English. It drew 100 applicants, from which another 10 women were hired. Dragonair flies to 13 destinations in China from Hongkong and has high hopes of introducing a number of new services later this year, starting with Ningbo. Its owners believe the airline has great potential to penetrate the huge China market and has been tailoring its investment accordingly.