Biden to regulate travel from China after previously calling Trump xenophobic

The White House announced Wednesday it will require travelers from China to test negative for COVID-19 prior to arrival in the U.S. — a policy that will come less than two years after candidate Joe Biden suggested then-President Trump’s restrictions on travel from China were xenophobic. 

A federal official said the test requirement will begin Jan. 5 and is necessary due to the lack of public data on China’s effectiveness in monitoring COVID-19. Travelers from China, regardless of nationality, will need to show a negative test taken no more than two days prior to their flight. Japan and India have established similar restrictions as China has loosened its ‘zero-Covid’ lockdown policies in recent weeks — and China requires travelers from the U.S. to test negative. 

Trump in January 2020 announced a plan to restrict travel from China in response to the initial COVID-19 virus spread. Hours after the announcement, Biden, on the campaign trail in Iowa, said ‘this is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysterical xenophobia and fear-mongering.’ Biden used this same wording in a tweet the next day. 

‘We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering,’ Biden tweeted.

Trump restricted travel from Europe in March 2020, to which Biden tweeted in response with a declaration that ‘a wall will not stop the coronavirus.’ In the following weeks, however, the Biden campaign shifted its public position on travel restrictions. 

Biden’s team, weeks after the Europe restrictions, claimed his comments on Trump’s xenophobia were not about travel policies.

‘This was not in reference to coronavirus travel restrictions,’ a campaign spokesman told The Washington Post at the time. ‘Travel restrictions, when supported by science, advocated by public health officials, and backed by a full strategy can be warranted. Travel restrictions can buy time; but here, the time they bought for preparation was squandered when Trump used it to downplay, rather than ready the country for, the disease.’

Biden’s campaign in April 2020 endorsed Trump’s China restrictions. 

‘Science supported this ban, therefore [Biden] did too,’ said Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield at the time. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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