The Rand Corporation, a US think tank, has issued a study arguing that positive US-China relations hinge on finding a peaceful resolution of cross-strait tensions.
The report, titled US-China Relations after Resolution of Taiwan's Status concludes that "as China's power and confidence in its military capabilities grow and therefore the possibility of Beijing attempting to bring about unification through force increases, preventing such an attempt from occurring while maintaining the capability to defeat it will become increasingly important even as it becomes increasingly difficult."
The report was sponsored by the US Air Force's assistant deputy chief of staff for long-term planning. It discusses ten scenarios in cross-strait developments, including events leading to unification, de jure independence or a continued deadlock.
The think tank study describes four peaceful scenarios: the continuation of the "status quo," a peaceful unification, peaceful de jure independence and a compromise.
The report also describes six scenarios involving Chinese military action against Taiwan: forced unification, with and without US intervention; de jure independence sparking Chinese military action, with and without US intervention; and a violent clash over Taiwan's status without leading to a resolution, with and without US intervention.
Armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait, the report says, would "likely be confined to the use of conventional weapons, even though both the United States and China possess nuclear weapons."
The think tank study also says that most Asian countries are unwilling to get involved if China invades Taiwan -- with the notable exception of Japan -- and would be loathe to choose sides between Washington and Beijing.
The report says that the nature of future US-China relations will depend on how the issue of Taiwan's status is resolved.
Although relations with Beijing may be friendly and peaceful in the future, there is potential for a situation that "in some ways is comparable to the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War," it says.
Only a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue would be conducive to positive relations, it says.