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Joe Biden calls the allies of the United States, India and Japan “xenophobic”

  • By Bernd Debusmann Jr.
  • BBC News, Washington

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, The White House has said that Joe Biden did not intend to offend Japan or India with his comment.

US President Joe Biden has called Japan and India “xenophobic”, grouping them with Russia and China as countries that “don’t want immigrants”.

His criticism of Japan comes just weeks after he called the US-Japan alliance “unbreakable” during a state visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

India is also a key U.S. partner, despite U.S. concerns about human rights and religious freedoms there.

The White House says Biden did not intend to offend either country.

Addressing a predominantly Asian-American audience at a campaign fundraiser on Wednesday night, Biden said this November’s US election was about “freedom, America and democracy.”

“Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” he added. “Think about it. Why is China stagnating so much economically? Why is Japan having problems? Why Russia? Why India? Because they are xenophobic. They don’t want immigrants.”

The BBC contacted the US embassies of Japan, India, China and Russia for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

The comments, however, have drawn criticism from American commentators.

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“We must speak to them with the respect that they deserve and have,” he added. “Applying parochial and progressive views to our allies is condescending and foolish.”

Although Japan, India and China have relatively few foreign-born workers, Russia relies heavily on migrant labor, much of it from Central Asia.

While economic growth has been slow in Japan and China, Russia’s militarized economy recovered slightly last year as it continues its war with Ukraine, despite international sanctions. Meanwhile, India has seen steady growth and overtook the United Kingdom last year to become the world’s fifth-largest economy.

The White House denied that Biden’s comments were derogatory, and national security spokesman John Kirby said he was making a broader comment about US immigration policy.

“Our allies and partners know tangibly how President Biden values ​​them, their friendship and their cooperation,” Kirby said. “They understand how much you completely and absolutely value the idea of ​​alliances and partnerships.”

Sadanand Dhume, a South Asia expert at the Washington DC-based American Enterprise Institute, told the BBC that Biden’s comments would likely be poorly received in India as it experiences a “nationalist surge.”

“It will confirm the idea among a section of Indians that Mr. Biden is not friendly to India,” he said. “They won’t be happy to have been hit along with authoritarian countries like China.”

In late April, a US State Department report found “significant” human rights abuses in India, which its government said “is deeply biased and reflects a very poor understanding of India.”

In the long term, however, Dhume said the comments are a “tempest in a teacup” and “are unlikely to significantly affect US-India relations.”

While Japan has had some of the most restrictive immigration policies in the world for decades, it has recently sought to address a steadily declining population by making it easier for foreign workers to enter.

Biden, who repeatedly characterized former US President Donald Trump as xenophobic during his 2020 campaign, has taken an increasingly restrictive approach to immigration amid widespread anger – from both sides of the political spectrum – over his handling of the border between United States and Mexico.