China and Russia will increase military exercises to strengthen security and defense cooperation amid growing tensions in the ­disputed South China Sea.

Russian Defense 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 defense levels,” Shoigu said. “This year we are going to hold more exercises and events than in past years.”

Speaking on the sidelines of an international security conference in Moscow, Shoigu said the two nations would conduct both ground and naval exercises.

“Certainly, the aim is to strengthen mutually beneficial relations of partnership,” he said.

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