WATCH: Biden accuses Trump of putting his trust in China’s leaders, ignoring health experts

In a new video, Biden accuses Trump for failing to hold China’s leaders accountable.

“The uncomfortable truth is that Donald Trump left America vulnerable and exposed to this pandemic,” Biden says “He ignored the warnings of health experts and intelligence agencies and put his trust in China’s leaders instead.”

WATCH:

Los Angeles Times reports with the U.S. death toll surpassing 35,000 on Friday and the nation’s economy in a record-shattering swoon, Trump’s reelection chances now rest heavily on his ability to successfully frame the choice voters will face in November as a referendum on China, according to the president’s campaign aides and allies.

For Trump, it’s an update of the unapologetic nationalism he ran on four years ago, when he played up dangers supposedly posed by Mexicans and illegal immigration, and cast opponents as weak and naive. For Biden, determined to avoid Hillary Clinton’s fate, it’s a political and cultural minefield to distance himself from China without demonizing it as he makes his final bid for the White House.

Unwilling to let Trump’s arguments go unanswered, Biden’s campaign battled back Friday with a spate of ads disputing his alleged support for China, and going on offense — blaming Trump for being too trusting of President Xi Jinping as the coronavirus spread.

In a new video, Biden agrees that Chinese authorities were not honest about the early outbreak in Wuhan, and sought to cover up the contagion and the deaths. But Trump, he said, “is not doing enough about it.”

“The uncomfortable truth is that Donald Trump left America vulnerable and exposed to this pandemic,” Biden said. “He ignored the warnings of health experts and intelligence agencies and put his trust in China’s leaders instead.”

American Bridge, a major Democratic super PAC, put $15 million behind a separate TV ad that slams Trump for trusting and praising China and for shipping medical supplies to China when they remained in short supply at home.

With rallies and other physical campaigning on hold, the heated battle over China marked the first direct major engagement of the general election campaign.

The clash is playing out amid a pandemic that has put Trump in front of TV cameras at the White House every afternoon, and relegated Biden to remote TV and internet appearances from his home basement in Wilmington, Del.

Biden engaged after Trump’s campaign revved up political messaging focusing on the former vice president’s apparent ties to Beijing, in concert with efforts by the White House and its backers to blame China for the pandemic.

Internal research “shows that Joe Biden’s softness on China is a major vulnerability,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign.