As HSBC Holdings Plc pins its future on China, Europe’s largest bank is grooming a set of well-connected bankers to navigate its fraught relationship with Beijing in the long run.

David Liao and Mark Yunfeng Wang, heads of Asia Pacific global banking and its China operations, respectively, are among a handful of contenders in the running to steer HSBC’s expansion in the crucial mainland and Hong Kong markets, according to people familiar with the matter.

Both are prominent in conversations about HSBC’s future as the lender kicks off an informal search to identify a successor for Peter Wong, its top Asia executive, they said, asking not to be named discussing private matters. Wong has been pivotal to restoring the British bank’s standing in China after it faced censure for its role in a US probe of Huawei Technologies Co. and to helping it manoeuvre around fraying ties between the world’s two superpowers.

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