Joe Biden calls US allies India and Japan ‘xenophobic’

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US President Joe Biden has stirred up controversy by referring to Japan and India, along with Russia and China, as “xenophobic” countries that are resistant to immigration. His remarks came during a campaign fundraising event where he emphasized the importance of freedom and democracy in the upcoming November elections.

Biden’s comments drew attention because they came just weeks after he praised the strong alliance between the US and Japan during a visit from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Similarly, India is considered a crucial partner for the US, despite concerns about human rights and religious freedoms in the country.

The White House clarified that Biden did not intend to offend Japan or India with his remarks. He was speaking to a predominantly Asian-American audience and highlighted the US’s welcoming stance towards immigrants. However, his comments have sparked criticism from various quarters, including former US officials and commentators.

Elbridge Colby, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defense, expressed disappointment with Biden’s characterization of Japan and India, emphasizing the importance of speaking respectfully to allies. He argued that applying narrow views to allies is patronizing and unwise.

While Japan, India, and China have relatively low numbers of foreign-born workers, Russia relies heavily on migrant labor, much of it coming from Central Asia. Despite economic challenges, Japan and India have made significant strides in their respective economies, while Russia’s militarized economy has rebounded amid ongoing conflicts.

The White House defended Biden’s comments, stating that they were not meant to be derogatory. National security spokesman John Kirby reiterated Biden’s commitment to alliances and partnerships, emphasizing the value placed on relationships with allies.

Sadanand Dhume, an expert on South Asia, suggested that Biden’s remarks could be poorly received in India, particularly amidst a nationalist resurgence in the country. However, he noted that the long-term impact on US-Indian relations is likely to be minimal.

In recent years, Japan has taken steps to address its declining population by opening up to foreign workers. Meanwhile, Biden, who criticized former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies during his own campaign, has faced criticism for his handling of immigration issues at the US-Mexico border.

Overall, Biden’s comments have sparked debate and raised questions about the relationship between the US and its key allies in Asia. Despite the diplomatic fallout, the long-term implications remain uncertain.

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