The US military has built software to predict Beijing’s reactions to US actions in Asia, such as military activity near China and arms sales to allies in the region, Reuters reported this week.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks was briefed on the new software on Tuesday during a visit to US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii. The tool examines data going back to early 2020 of China’s responses to provocations from the US.
“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 days ago.
Since 2020, the US has significantly increased its military activity in the South China Sea and other sensitive areas near China. Unsurprisingly, China has responded by holding more military drills in the region.
A US official told Reuters that China’s condemning of a joint naval patrol between the US and Canada through the Taiwan Strait and similar incidents fueled demand for the tool, although Beijing has always denounced US transits through the waterway.
Further, it will seek to calculate “strategic friction” – as a US defense official put it:
It looks at data since early 2020 and evaluates significant activities that had impacted U.S.-Sino relations. The computer-based system will help the Pentagon predict whether certain actions will provoke an outsized Chinese reaction.
The software will also try to predict China’s responses to congressional delegation visits to Taiwan, which have increased over the past year. Since the Trump administration, the US has taken more steps to boost diplomatic ties with Taipei, drawing the ire of Beijing.