TOKYO - Of all the things HSBC Chief Executive Officer Noel Quinn thought 2020 might hold for his bank, becoming a key proxy in the US-China trade war probably wasn’t among them.

Covid-19 was disruptive enough for Europe’s biggest bank. As Quinn warned in August, profit for the first half of the year could be half what investors had hoped and that loan losses could approach US$13 billion this year.

He also signaled efforts to accelerate a pivot to Asia as European growth disappoints. But that won’t happen if US President Donald Trump has anything to say about HSBC’s 2021. 

Suddenly, the London-based bank’s historically lucrative status as a bridge between East and West is in the crosshairs of a US leader desperate for re-election.

With November 3 fast approaching and a botched coronavirus response denting his poll numbers, Trump is desperate to look resolute in his dealings with China. And that appears to include blowing up HSBC’s year.