Inside the campaign, the strategy is simple: make China the villain of a global pandemic that has complicated well-laid electoral plans and sparked growing criticism of the president.

“[China’s] among many weaknesses, but when people learn about Biden’s attack on the president’s China travel ban, his other weak positions on China, and his conflict with Hunter Biden’s business deal with China, voters are horrified,” John McLaughlin, a Trump pollster, told The Daily Beast on Friday. Other Trump 2020 officials said that the campaign had always intended to hammer Biden on China until the election in November, and the coronavirus “angle” was merely another way to go after the Bidens and China simultaneously.

In one sense it’s simply an extension of Team Trump’s months-long strategy to tie Biden to a country increasingly viewed with suspicion by American voters. The campaign and the Republican National Committee have been hammering Biden for months over his youngest son Hunter’s past business dealings in China.

But the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has made the country a far more potent political villain.