Biden's Controversial Remarks: Japan, India, China, and Russia labeled 'xenophobic' by U.S. President

Biden's Controversial Remarks: Japan, India, China, and Russia labeled 'xenophobic' by U.S. President

During a campaign fundraising event on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden stirred controversy by referring to Japan, India, China, and Russia as 'xenophobic' countries that are not welcoming to immigrants. This critique of Japan follows his recent praise of the strong U.S.-Japan alliance during a state visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, while acknowledging India as a significant U.S. partner despite certain human rights issues.

Speaking to a predominantly Asian-American audience, Biden said the upcoming U.S. midterm elections were about "freedom, America and democracy" because "we welcome immigrants." He then grouped together Japan, India, China and Russia, saying "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."

The White House has sought to downplay the comments, with national security spokesman John Kirby saying Biden did not intend them in a "derogatory" way and was making a broader point about U.S. immigration policy. However, the remarks have drawn criticism from some U.S. foreign policy experts.

"Japan and India are two of our very stoutest and important allies," said Elbridge Colby, a former Trump administration Pentagon official. "We should speak to them with respect."

While Japan has long maintained restrictive immigration policies, India's economy has grown steadily in recent years to become the world's 5th largest. Russia also relies heavily on migrant workers from Central Asia.

South Asia expert Sadanand Dhume said the comments would likely go down poorly in India amid a "nationalist upsurge" and "confirm the idea among a section of Indians that Mr. Biden is not friendly to India."

The U.S. and India have had some tensions over human rights issues under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. However, Dhume said the remarks were likely a "tempest in a teacup" that would not significantly impact bilateral ties.

Biden, who has increasingly taken a more restrictive approach to immigration, had frequently criticized former President Donald Trump as "xenophobic" during the 2020 campaign.

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