US builds new software tool to predict actions that could attract China’s wrath

HONOLULU, Hawaii, Dec. 15 (Reuters) – U.S. military commanders in the Pacific have developed a software tool to predict how the Chinese government will respond to U.S. actions in the region such as military sales, U.S.-backed military activities, and even congressional visits to hotspots will react like Taiwan.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks was informed about the new instrument on Tuesday during a visit to the US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii.

“With the spectrum of conflicts and the challenges that extend into the gray area. What you see is the need to look at a much broader set of indicators, weave them together, and then understand the threat interaction, ”Hicks said in an interview aboard a military jet en route to California.

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The tool calculates “strategic friction,” said a defense official. It looks at data since early 2020 and evaluates significant activity that has impacted US-China relations. The computerized system will help the Pentagon predict whether certain actions will provoke an oversized Chinese response.

In October, the Chinese military condemned the United States and Canada for sending a warship each across the strait on the grounds that they threatened peace and stability in the region. The incident, and similar incidents, has fueled demand for the tool, the US official said, to ensure the United States does not inadvertently upset China with its actions.

While US-China relations are already at rock bottom, the tool offers insights into a wide variety of activities such as congress visits to Taiwan, arms sales to allies in the region, or when multiple US cross-strait ships could provoke an oversized or unintentional Chinese Reaction.

China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory and has repeatedly conducted air force operations in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the past year, causing anger in Taipei.

The new software will allow US officials to look forward to planned actions up to four months in advance, the official said.

Hicks is touring U.S. bases this week as the Biden government’s 2023 budget takes shape. The Defense Ministry is hoping to channel budget funds towards a military that can deter China and Russia.

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Reporting by Mike Stone in Honolulu Editing by Matthew Lewis and Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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