MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines president says his country will file a new protest at the United Nations accusing China of territorial incursion in disputed South China Sea islands.

China earlier denied allegations that its ships intruded into the Spratly Islands close to the Philippine coast to build new structures and fortify its claim in the potentially oil-rich region.

President Benigno Aquino III told reporters during a visit to Brunei on Thursday that the Philippines plans to file a protest at the U.N. .

Aquino said he still hopes to visit Beijing this year and engage China, a key trade partner.

The Spratlys have long been feared as a potential flashpoint of armed conflicts in Asia. They are also claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.