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Biden criticizes India and Japan, labeling allies as ‘Xenophobic’

Biden criticizes India and Japan, labeling allies as ‘Xenophobic’

Biden criticizes India and Japan, labeling allies as ‘Xenophobic’

Biden criticizes India and Japan, labeling allies as ‘Xenophobic’

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  • US President Joe Biden labels Japan and India as “xenophobic,” comparing them to Russia and China.
  • South Asia expert Sadanand Dhume warns that Biden’s comments would likely be poorly received in India.
  • Japan has recently taken steps to address a shrinking population by facilitating the entry of foreign workers.
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US President Joe Biden has labeled Japan and India as “xenophobic,” grouping them alongside Russia and China as countries that “do not want immigrants.” His criticism of Japan arrives just weeks after he proclaimed the US-Japan alliance as “unbreakable” during a state visit from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Despite US concerns regarding human rights and religious freedoms in India, it remains a significant partner for the US.

The White House has clarified that Mr. Biden intended no offense to either country. Addressing a predominantly Asian-American audience at a campaign fundraising event on Wednesday evening, Mr. Biden stated that the US election this November revolved around “freedom, America, and democracy.”

“Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” he added. “Think about it. Why is China stalling so badly economically? Why is Japan having trouble? Why is Russia? Why is India? Because they’re xenophobic. They don’t want immigrants.”

On X, formerly known as Twitter, Elbridge Colby, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Trump administration, expressed that Japan and India “are two of our very stoutest and important allies”.

“We should speak to them with respect, which they command and deserve,” he added. “Applying parochial progressive views to our allies is patronizing and foolish.”

While Japan, India, and China have relatively few foreign-born workers, Russia relies heavily on migrant labor, much of which is drawn from Central Asia. Despite sluggish economic growth in Japan and China, Russia’s militarized economy experienced a slight rebound last year amidst its ongoing war with Ukraine, despite facing international sanctions.

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Meanwhile, India has experienced steady growth and surpassed the UK in 2023 to become the world’s fifth-largest economy. The White House denied that Mr. Biden’s comments were meant in a derogatory sense, with national security spokesman John Kirby stating that he was making a wider point on US immigration policy.

“Our allies and partners know well in tangible ways how President Biden values them, their friendship, their co-operation,” Mr Kirby said. “They understand how much he completely and utterly values the idea of alliances and partnerships.”

Sadanand Dhume, a South Asia expert at the Washington DC-based American Enterprise Institute, informed the news that Mr. Biden’s comments would likely be poorly received in India amidst its experience of a “nationalist upsurge”.

“It will confirm the idea among a section of Indians that Mr Biden is not friendly to India,” he said. “They will not take kindly to having been clubbed along with authoritarian countries like China.”

In late April, a US Department of State report identified “significant” human rights abuses in India, which its government criticized as “deeply biased and reflecting a very poor understanding of India.” However, in the longer term, Mr. Dhume stated that the remarks represent a “tempest in a teacup” and are “unlikely to significantly impact US-Indian relations.”

While Japan has maintained some of the world’s most restrictive immigration policies for decades, it has recently taken steps to address a steadily shrinking population by facilitating the entry of foreign workers.

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Mr. Biden, who repeatedly labeled former US President Donald Trump as xenophobic during his 2020 campaign, has adopted an increasingly restrictive approach to immigration amid widespread anger – from both sides of the political spectrum – over his handling of the US-Mexico border.

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