Members of a China-appointed advisory committee have accused the Hong Kong government of discriminating against holders of Chinese university degrees.
They want Chinese qualifications to be recognised after China resumes sovereignty in 1997 in the same way as British degrees are recognised.
Organisations representing professionals say they fear an influx of people with sub-standard qualifications if millions of Chinese degrees are automatically recognised.
Educators have also warned against recognising qualifications from all Chinese universities, saying that although the 561 mainland universities are said to have gone through stringent procedures, there is no guarantee that every degree is properly developed.
Mervyn Cheung Man-ping, secretary of the Hong Kong Association for Continuing Education, said the proposal seemed to be "conducted in a spirit of retaliation against British rule".
Raymond Wu Wei-yeung, convenor of the Preparatory Working Committee's education sub-group which made the proposal, said the PWC's proposal did not constitute a judgement of the standard of mainland degrees but rather stated a principle. The PWC's aim was to abolish the "unfair" academic accreditation policy based on political favouritism of the British colonial government.