Biden calls Quad partners Japan, India ‘xenophobic’ unwelcoming to immigrants, comparing them with rivals China, Russia

India and Japan are also part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly known as the Quad, a strategic security dialogue that includes Australia and the US.

At a hotel fundraiser where the donor audience was largely Asian-American, Biden said the coming US election was about “freedom, America and democracy” and that the nation’s economy was thriving “because of you and many others.”

“Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” Biden said. “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.”

US President Joe Biden speaks in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

The president added: “Immigrants are what makes us strong. Not a joke. That’s not hyperbole, because we have an influx of workers who want to be here and want to contribute.”

There was no immediate reaction from either the Japanese or Indian governments. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Biden was making a broader point about the US posture on immigration.

“Our allies and partners know well in tangible ways how President Biden values them, their friendship, their cooperation and the capabilities that they bring across the spectrum on a range of issues, not just security related,” Kirby said on Thursday morning when asked about Biden’s “xenophobic” remarks. “They understand how much he completely and utterly values the idea of alliances and partnerships.”

Revelry, racial justice headline US’ Asian-American and Pacific Islander month

Biden’s comments came at the start of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and he was introduced at the fundraiser by Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, one of two senators of Asian-American descent. She is a national co-chair for his re-election campaign.

Japan has acknowledged issues with its shrinking population, and the number of babies born in the country in 2023 fell for the eighth straight year, according to data released in February.

Kishida has called the low birth rate in Japan “the biggest crisis Japan faces” and the country has long been known for a more closed-door stance on immigration, although Kishida’s government has, in recent years, shifted its policies to make it easier for foreign workers to come to Japan.

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World’s largest population: why it could be a headache for India

World’s largest population: why it could be a headache for India

Meanwhile, India’s population has swollen to become the world’s largest, with the United Nations saying it was on track to reach 1.425 billion. Its population also skews younger. Earlier this year, India enacted a new citizenship law that fast-tracks naturalisation for Hindus, Parsees, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who fled to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

But it excludes Muslims, who are a majority in all three nations. It’s the first time that India has set religious criteria for citizenship.

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