March 25, 2016 4:29 AM EDT

Malaysia has sent its Maritime Enforcement Agency and navy to monitor its waters near the Luconia Shoals in the South China Sea after an armada of about 100 Chinese ships were detected around the area, a Malaysian minister in charge of national security said Friday.

Legal action may be taken, Minister Shahidan Kassim said according to the Associated Press, if the ships did enter Malaysia’s economic zone.

The South China Sea is a hotly disputed region, with China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all claiming various shoals and islands in the waters. Tensions escalated recently as China has accelerated its contentious land-reclamation project and stationed missiles on a contested island.


Write to Mark Rivett-Carnac at

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