102106832-492559195.530x298Russia and China are planning to hold large-scale joint naval drills in the Mediterranean and Pacific next year, as deepening economic and political cooperation appear to be driving the two giants to at least discuss the idea of forming a military bloc. Both countries are rapidly jacking up their military spending and modernizing their forces. China is set to spend an unprecedented $132 billion of defense this year. Meanwhile, Russia is in the midst of a sweeping five-year $700-billion rearmament program, and has lately begun restoring Soviet-era bomber patrols across much of the West’s airspace. Russian officials say the upcoming naval drills are designed to demonstrate that Russian and Chinese fleets can operate together in bodies of water half a world apart. More