Admiral Dennis Blair's comments on the role the United States intends to play in maintaining stability across the Taiwan Strait are to be welcomed. On the one hand, the commander of US forces in the region reiterated his country's policy of arming Taiwan to the extent that forcible reunification by the mainland is not an option. But he also made it clear that US arms sales to Taiwan were not to be seen as a move towards creating an independent Taiwan. He said that a stable military balance across the Taiwan Strait was a pre-condition to 'the peaceful achievement of one China, which is the policy of China, the policy of Taiwan and the policy of the United States'. While the Chinese Government publicly describes any US role in the cross-strait relationship as interference in China's internal affairs, Washington can play a stabilising role in the relationship between Beijing and Taipei. It can do this by ensuring that military action cannot be an option in deciding the way the relations between Taiwan and the mainland evolve. Ensuring such a military balance is the best method of paving the way for a healthy dialogue between the mainland and Taiwan on their future relationship. As Admiral Blair pointed out, the military balance between the mainland and Taiwan is stable at present and does not provide a basis either for Taiwanese independence or forcible reunification. It is important that nothing is done to upset this situation. An increase in the number of missiles pointing towards Taiwan would upset this balance, as would the introduction of any new sophisticated weapons system into Taiwan. Despite the angry rhetoric that often spews across the Taiwan Strait, neither side is spoiling for a fight. At the same time, they do not appear to be ready for talks and are poised in a no-man's land between confrontation and dialogue. Washington can play a role in nudging them towards dialogue.