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Monday, June 24, 2024

White House feels media heat over Biden’s ‘xenophobic’ remarks for India, Japan


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Washington: The White House was hard-pressed to explain President Joe Biden’s description of “xenophobic” for the US’ Quad partners India and Japan, and managed to ward off pointed queries from the media by saying the president has “focused on those diplomatic relationships” during his term.

Cornered by a media person who wanted to know whether President Biden wanted to push away Japan, a key US ally, with his “off-the-cuff remarks”, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre fumbled for the right choice of words.

President Biden, while speaking at a Campaign Reception in Washington, termed India and Japan, along with China and Russia, as “xenophobic”, which he said is one of the major reasons why their economies are “stalling”.

At the White House press gaggle, a media person asked about President Biden’s Wednesday night comments “lumping” India and Japan with China and Russia, calling them “xenophobic”.

Q – “It’s something that’s typically reserved for U.S. adversaries. Is there a concern that he is pushing a key U.S. ally in a region and a key bulwark against China away from the U.S.? Is there concern that that relationship is being harmed by these off-the-cuff remarks?

Jean-Pierre: So, a couple of things. I mean, he was making a broader point, as I was saying earlier, when I was answering Karen’s question about this country. And our allies and partners know very well that — how much this president respects them. As you know, in regards to Japan, they were just here for the state visit. That U.S.-Japan relationship is — is an important relationship. It’s a deep, enduring — enduring alliance.

And — and so, we’re — certainly, we — we share a commitment to democratic values and strong bounds of friendship between our — our peoples. And this was evidenced by, like, as I just said, with the recent — recent state dinner visit.(referring to Japanese PM Fumio Kishida’s state visit to Washington in mid April)

And so, he was making a more broad comment, speaking about this country and speaking about how important it is to be a country of immigrants and how it makes our country stronger. And so, that’s what he was talking about.

As it relates to our relationship with our allies, that continues. Obviously, we have a strong relationship with — with — with India, with — with Japan. And the President, if you just look at the last three years, has certainly — certainly has focused on that diplomatic — those diplomatic relationships.

Q And yet, Karine —

Q Karine —

Jean-Pierre: Yeah.

Q — the word “xenophobic” is a very pejorative and negative word, particularly to use against an ally. Is that what he meant?

Jean-Pierre: Look, he — I think he was — I think — look, the President was very clear. And I think — I —

Q He wasn’t very clear.

Jean-Pierre: Well — well —

Q I mean, that’s why we’re asking you.

Jean-Pierre: Well, no, I — well, look, here’s what I’m saying. He was talking about what — who we are as a country. Right? He was talking about the importance about being in a country of immigrants, especially as you see the attacks that we have seen very recently, in the last couple of years, on — those attacks on immigrants, in particular.

And so, it is important for us to remember that we are a country of immigrants. I’m explaining where he’s — what he — what he was talking about and how he was — what he was focusing on in those comments: country of immigrants, it makes us stronger, it is important to let — to — to be very clear about that.

And the President is always going to be really clear on — on — on speaking to, you know, issues that matter to the American people. We are a country of immigrants. That matters. And we’ve seen these attacks. And so, the — the President is never going to shy away from that.

Q Karine, would he phrase it again the same way? Would he phrase it again the same way?

Jean-Pierre: You know, that is up to the President. You know, he is — he is — he is the President. Whatever — however he sees a message — wanting to share a message to the American people, he will do so. And so, I can’t speak to — I can’t speak to that.”

President Biden in his comments at a Campaign Reception in Washington, said that the US elections is “about freedom, America, and democracy. That’s why I badly need you.”

Touching on the hot topic of immigration, with his administration being accused by the opposition of being soft on the thousands of illegal immigrants, Biden said:

“You know, one of the reasons why our economy is growing is because of you and many others. Why? Because we welcome immigrants.

“We look to — the reason — look, 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.”

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