A Malaysian minister says 100 China-registered boats have been detected encroaching into Malaysian waters near the Luconia Shoals in the South China Sea.

Shahidan Kassim, a minister in charge of national security, says the government has dispatched the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the navy to the area to monitor the situation.

Shahidan was quoted by the national Bernama news agency on Friday as saying legal enforcement action will be taken if the Chinese vessels are found to have entered Malaysia's exclusive economic zone.

Shahidan could not be immediately reached for comments

China claims almost the entire South China Sea. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims. Tensions have ramped up since China began a massive land reclamation program in 2013.