COVID Boomerang: Biden criticized for restricting China travel after dubbing Trump 'xenophobic'

Starting on Jan. 5, travelers from China will be required to show a negative COVID test within two days before entering the United States.

Updated: December 29, 2022 - 11:27pm

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When Donald Trump took action to regulate travel from Asian nations at the start of the pandemic in 2020, then-candidate Joe Biden spared few words. He accused the Republican president of "xenophobic fear-mongering" in a line the left would embrace for weeks while one of his top aides declared travel restrictions wouldn't help stop the spread of the virus.

Now president himself nearly three years later, Biden finds himself on the receiving end of similar criticism after his administration mandated that travelers from China will be required starting Jan. 5 to show a negative COVID test within two days before entering the United States.

"Biden is a hypocrite," Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) tweeted in response to the new travel requirements. "He is restricting travel from China after previously calling Trump xenophobic for doing the same thing."

When Trump defended his COVID response in March 2020 by citing how he closed the borders in January to travelers from China, where the virus originated, Biden replied at the time: "Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering. Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job."

The Biden campaign later insisted that the accusation was targeting Trump's restrictions on travelers from Muslim-majority countries and his response to the Ebola virus under the Obama administration, The Washington Post reported

In February 2020, now-White House chief of staff Ron Klain told Congress that travel restrictions would not help stop the virus.

"We don’t have a travel ban. We have a travel Band-Aid right now. First, before it was imposed, 300,000 people came here from China in the previous month. So, the horse is out of the barn," he said.

The White House's new testing requirements for Chinese travelers come as Italian health officials said more than half the passengers arriving on a plane from China to Milan have tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that a negative COVID test "doesn’t rule out that you could have an infection."

Conservatives were eager to embrace he political boomerang on Biden.

"When President Trump issued a coronavirus-related China travel ban, Democrats said it was 'xenophobic.' When Joe Biden imposes restrictions on China, the same Democrats are silent," Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas) tweeted.

"By the left’s standards, this is an extremely racist move by the Biden administration," added conservative commentator Collin Rugg.

"Biden just announced new guidelines for mandatory COVID tests for anyone traveling from China," Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier tweeted. "I don’t know guys… that sounds xenophobic to me!"

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton took note of how the travel regulations are not being instituted for another week.

"Biden admin so desperate to stop covid coming from China that they will wait a week to implement the (absurd) covid testing requirements," he tweeted.