China and Russia are to hold joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean and work towards a stronger military alliance, the Russian Defence Minister has said.
On a visit to Beijing, Sergei Shoigu spoke of "concern with the attempts to reinforce its military political influence in the Asia-Pacific region," local media reported.
"Our co-operation in the military spheres has great potential and the Russian side is ready to develop it across the broadest possible spectrum of areas. We see the formation of a collective regional-security system as the primary objective of our joint efforts," he added.
"We plan to conduct a regular joint naval exercise in the Mediterranean next spring. Another joint naval drill is planned in the Pacific," Shogiu revealed.
There has been a concerted effort to ramp up the relationship between China and Russia in recent days and weeks, with much of the rhetoric focusing on the pair's efforts to build an Asia-Pacific alliance.
Shoigu met with the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as well as Defence Minister Chang Wanquan, during which he discussed "the state and prospects of the Russian-Chinese relations in the military field, exchanged opinions on the military-political situation in general and the APR in particular".
The pair are expected to step up events of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) – a political, economic and military group, consisting of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
On 19 November, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov added his voice to the discussion, telling the Russian Parliament: "Breakthrough decisions have been taken lately for deepening cooperation and strategic partnership with China."
He added: "The dynamic development of our eastern territories is a national priority for the whole 21st century. Hence our interest towards more active and productive involvement in integration processes in the Asia-Pacific Region and in tapping its potential for an economic upturn in Siberia and the Far East."
The meetings come a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) Summit in Beijing, to discuss the "evergreen" friendship between the two nations.
The security alliance comes as the pair also continue to step up economic collaboration. Last week the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Gazprom of Russia signed a second huge energy deal, which will see CNPC import natural gas from Russia on a 30-year basis.