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The Big Take

Britain’s Biggest Bank Is Caught in the U.S.-China Crossfire

Insurer Ping An wants to break up HSBC, 20 years after the ‘global bank’ invested in its future. The tussle points to the difficulty of doing business in China.

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For years, HSBC Holdings Plc and Ping An Insurance Group Co. enjoyed a cozy relationship, from the turns they took financially backing each other to the easy rapport between their influential chairmen.

That’s why shock rippled through the top ranks of the $3 trillion British bank when it emerged the firm’s biggest shareholder was pushing for the most dramatic split in banking history.