US military commanders in the Pacific have built a software tool to predict how the Chinese government will react to US actions in the region, such as military sales, US-backed military activity and even congressional visits to hotspots such as Taiwan . Deputy secretary of defence Kathleen Hicks was briefed on the new tool during a 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 en route to California. The tool calculates “strategic friction”, according to a defence official. It looks at data since early 2020 and evaluates significant activities that had affected Sino-US relations . The computer-based system will help the Pentagon predict whether certain actions will provoke an outsize Chinese reaction. Strengthen Taiwan defences but keep strategic ambiguity: US officials In October, the Chinese military condemned the US and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait , saying they were threatening peace and stability in the region. The incident and others like it had fuelled demand for the tool, the US official said, to ensure the US did not inadvertently upset China with its actions. While relations between the US and China are already at low point, the tool provides visibility across a variety of activities, such as congressional visits to Taiwan, arms sales to allies in the region or when several US ships sailing through the Taiwan Strait could provoke an outsize or unintended Chinese reaction. Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory and has mounted repeated air force missions into the island’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year, provoking anger in Taipei. The new software will allow US officials to look forward to planned actions as far as four months in advance, the official said. Time to set global rules for AI warfare, China tells UN weapons reviews Hicks is touring US bases this week while the Biden administration’s draft 2023 budget takes shape. The Department of Defence hopes to move budget dollars towards a military that can deter China and Russia.