A move by Taiwan towards independence would only mean war, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick told a congressional committee on Wednesday. Highlighting China's "near-term military build-up", Zoellick said Washington was faced with a difficult balancing act to avoid being drawn into a war it doesn?t want. "The balance is that we want to be supportive of Taiwan while we"re not encouraging those that try to move toward independence," he said. "Because, let me be very clear: independence means war. And that means American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines." Zoellick also denied that Chinese influence was behind the decision to refuse Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's request to stop in the US en route to Latin America last week. Speaking in Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesperson called on the US to stop selling arms to Taiwan.