China’s Defense Ministry has denied online rumors that military units had begun war preparations with rising tensions over the standoff in the disputed waters in the South China Sea.

The month-long standoff involving three Chinese vessels and Philippine government vessels is potentially the most volatile as both countries are tensed from internal pressure. The political turmoil in China intensifies the country’s need to assert itself and refuse to show signs of weakness, as was said by Alex Dupont, a regional-security expert at the¬†University of New South Wales.

In Manila, anti-China protests have been held, which the government denied planning. Philippine presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda declined to further discus the diplomatic efforts the government is taking to resolve the issue. The Scarborough Shoal, located in the South China Sea, contains rich natural resources and oil reserves. The disputed waters are claimed by China, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.