Biden’s ‘xenophobia’ remark on India: UN spokesperson declines to react

Asked by the reporter about the UN's definition of "xenophobia", Farhan Haq said that it "is simply the dictionary definition".

United Nations: A UN spokesperson has declined to react to an assertion by US President Joe Biden that India was “stalling so badly economically” because it was “xenophobic” and not taking in immigrants.

“I wouldn’t comment on what he said,” Farhan Haq, the Deputy Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said on Friday when he was asked by a Chinese TV reporter about Biden’s comment that also covered China, Russia, and Japan.

Asked by the reporter about the UN’s definition of “xenophobia”, Haq said that it “is simply the dictionary definition”.

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Biden had said on Wednesday, “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.”

However, reports by several international organisations and multinationals tell a different story from that of Biden, who has a record of making fact-challenged statements.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the US economy grew by 2.5 per cent last year and is expected to grow this year by 2.7 per cent, while India, according to Biden, has a “stalling” economy grew three times faster than the US at 7.8 per cent last year and is projected for a two-and-a-half time faster growth at 6.8 per cent this year.

China’s economy grew by 5.2 per cent last year with a projection of 4.8 per cent this year.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre tried to play down Biden’s assertion, saying that “he was making a more broad comment, speaking about this country and speaking about how important it is to be a country of immigrants”.

“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,” she added.

Haq, in his response to Biden’s comment, added, “But certainly, we believe that all of our member states should continue to uphold all of the basic standards in the UN Human Rights covenants, including those that involve treating all races, all nationalities with respect. And we believe that all of the member states of the UN work towards that end.”

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