Freedom of navigation exercises are ingenious. Where there are contested waters, but recognized internationally as international, a country may sail its warships through just to keep the habit of sailing in free waters whenever, wherever we want.
Exercising a right is one way of retaining it. If someone opposes, exercise the right more loudly and more often. Habit and familiarity enforce laws and rights without having to say why. Where there’s conflict brewing, sometimes the best way to preserve the path to peace is to keep the path beaten down by walking down it as often as we possibly can.