A software tool to calculate how US actions may agitate Beijing has been developed by US military commanders in the Pacific. Such actions could range from arms sales, naval manoeuvres to congressional visits to hotspots like Taiwan, South China Morning Post reported on Dec. 16.

The new tool was presented to Deputy secretary of defence Kathleen Hicks during her visit to the United States Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii on Tuesday.

“With the spectrum of conflict and the challenge sets spanning down into the grey zone, what you see is the need to be looking at a far broader set of indicators, weaving that together and then understanding the threat interaction,” Hicks said in an interview aboard a military jet heading to California.

Based on data from early 2020, the tool figures out significant activities that had influenced Sino-US relations and computes “strategic frictions”, said a defence official. 

The new software will allow the Pentagon to forecast if China has massive reactions to certain moves from the US, and anticipate planned actions as far as four months in advance, the official said.

In October, Beijing blamed the US and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, which it considered it was threatening peace and stability in the region. Such kind of events had urged the development of the tool, the US official said, to assure the US did not unintentionally frustrate China.

The tension between China and Taiwan has escalated over the past year, with Beijing always claiming Taiwan as its own territory and repeatedly conducting air force missions into the island’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), which has fuelled anger in Taipei.

In that context, the newly developed tool allows the US to foresee the diplomatic consequences of certain activities such as congressional visits to Taiwan, military sales to allies in the region or when several US ships sailing through the Taiwan Strait. This visibility may help Washington keep the Sino-US relation, which is already at low point, in control.

Hicks’ tour around US bases this week takes place when the Biden administration shapes the draft 2023 budget. The Department of Defence expects to allocate budget dollars to a military that can deter China and Russia, SCMP added.

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