The row over the senior appointments at the University of Hong Kong speaks volumes about the city’s increasingly politicised environment. Even though there is no concrete evidence to prove that the mainland backgrounds of the two new vice-presidents have made them unsuitable for the top jobs, the process has still become a flashpoint for confrontation. The dispute does nothing for the university’s image and reputation. HKU is no stranger to political controversies, having sacked a legal scholar linked to the 2014 Occupy protest and rejected the promotion of his senior colleague to the post of pro-vice-chancellor in 2015. The latest fiasco comes with the education sector facing growing pressure and scrutiny in a highly charged atmosphere. That is why a campaign to block the appointments has swiftly garnered the support of thousands of people. Explaining the fuss over HKU’s latest appointments for two senior posts Clarifications by Max Shen Zuojun and Gong Peng following the confirmation of their appointments in charge of research and academic development respectively may not necessarily clear the air. Shen reportedly denied he was a member of the Chinese Communist Party. The professor at the University of California, Berkeley, took up an honorary professorship in 2014 at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, which as standard procedure assigns the appointee to the party committee. The affiliation reference was later removed from the Tsinghua website. Separately, Gong, also from Berkeley, dismissed allegations that he made use of contacts to help secure a university place for the daughter of a top mainland cadre years ago. Amid growing anti-mainland sentiment in some quarters, the appointees’ backgrounds could still raise concern even if there was no issue with party membership. The row underlines the escalating sentiment against anything that has mainland connections. The resistance can be so strong sometimes that it may prevent us from getting the right person for the job. Mainland Chinese professors from Tsinghua named for top roles at HKU Academic excellence comes from professional qualifications rather than politics and ideology. The two men should be given time to prove their competence. The controversies over the past years have badly damaged the image of HKU. It must strive to overcome the setbacks and move on.