A spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said China needs a stronger military to combat separatist threats at home and to contribute to international containment abroad despite improving relations with Taiwan, the Wall Street Journal reported. The military would like money for equipment, soldiers’ salaries and logistics so that it can modernize while combating separatists in the western provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet. Beijing has been raising its military spending over the last few years and increasing its strategic influence in Asia. The Chinese navy also begain escorting ships through the waters near Sudan in December 2008. The government claims that its military is for defensive purposes and that it spends only a fraction of what the US spends on its military every year.