China and Russia will increase military exercises to strengthen security and defence cooperation amid growing tensions in the disputed South China Sea.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu unveiled the plan at a meeting with his visiting Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan on Wednesday, Tass news agency reported.
“We highly appreciate a high level of Russian-Chinese contact both at the state and defence levels,” Shoigu said. “This year we are going to hold more exercises and events than in past years.”
“Certainly, the aim is to strengthen mutually beneficial relations of partnership,” he said.
The remarks come as Beijing steps up efforts to lobby support ahead of a key international court ruling on the South China Sea disputes, which is widely expected to go against China.
China and Russia have intensified military exercises over the past year, including several naval exercises conducted last year. China will host the Joint Sea-2016 naval drill later this year.
The strengthened defence ties between the two nations, mainly through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation platform, are widely believed to be aimed at countering the United States’ growing military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
Professor He Qisong, of the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said deep mistrust remained between Beijing and Moscow because of their conflicting interests. The so-called trust and cooperation between the two powers was largely aimed at Washington, he said.
Full article: China, Russia increase joint drills as they deepen defence ties to contain US, their mutual foe (South China Morning Post)