WASHINGTON: The United States and China fired verbal volleys at each other over Taiwan on Friday, fraying decades of tacit strategic ambiguity on the issue at the risk of igniting another global flashpoint.The new row erupted after US President Joe Biden pledged at a CNN Townhall event to protect Taiwan if it comes under attack from China, a surprisingly candid distancing from Washington’s long-standing one-China policy that effectively recognizes Beijing long-term claim over Taiwan.Although the White House subsequently rowed back Biden’s remarks saying there was no change in US policy, it triggered outrage in Beijing, which in recent months has cranked up its threat to bring Taiwan under its control by force if necessary, flying warplanes near the island and practising beach landings.“When it comes to issues related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests, there is no room for China to compromise or make concessions. No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.China urges the United States “not to send the wrong signals to the forces of Taiwan independence, to avoid seriously harming Sino-US ties and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he added.In his comments, Biden said the US did not want a new Cold War but expressed concern about whether China was going to “engage in activities that will put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake” — an implicit reference to aggressive Chinese moves in recent months.“I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back, we are not going to change any of our views.” Biden said. Asked whether the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s defense if it were attacked, he replied: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.”It is not the first time Biden has let slip the idea that the US will defend Taiwan, each time allowing aides to reel back and say there is no change in US policy, which recognizes only Beijing while pledging to defend Taipeh with military sales and supplies.”The US defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,”a White House spokesperson said.Other US officials have been more circumspect. Asked Friday by a reporter in Brussels at a NATO meeting whether US would defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China, US defense secretary Lloyd Austin said he would not discuss hypothetical situations, while asserting, “Nobody wants to see cross-Strait issues come to blows -– certainly not President Biden, and there’s no reason that it should.” He added that Washington remains committed to its longstanding “one China” policy.