China is accused of building new artificial islands in the South China Sea, which could worsen the already existing conflict in the region.

China has begun building more artificial islands in the South China Sea, according to Philippine officials. This is reported by the Washington Examiner.

The Philippines has announced new patrols to counter these activities. “No one will occupy these places except us,” Jonathan Malaya, spokesman for the Philippine National Security Council, told local media. “It is our responsibility under international law to guard them and ensure that the environment there is not damaged and there are no land reclamation activities.”

The accusation raises tensions over China’s claim to control of the South China Sea, including much of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. China’s current activities also affect an area that is legally part of the Philippines’ economic zone.

According to Jay Tarriela, spokesman for the Philippine Coast Guard, China is building the land area for an artificial island by bringing in building materials. Without countermeasures, new artificial islands could emerge in the coming months. China has dismissed the allegations as mere rumors.

To monitor Beijing’s activities, Philippine officials have ordered a deployment of coast guard ships. The area is one of the most potentially conflict-ridden areas in the world. It is part of the Spratly Islands, where China has already built seven artificial islands and set up at least three military outposts.