France and Britain announced they will sail through the South China Sea next week to join international efforts to stand up to China’s increasing aggressiveness in the disputed seas.

French minister of the armed forces Florence Parly and British defense minister Gavin Williamson made the announcement this week during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

It comes as China reportedly installed missiles and jammers on reefs-turned-islands, prompting protests from other claimants like Vietnam and even China-friendly Philippines.

It’s a significant development in the South China Sea dispute, experts told Rappler, noting how the Asian military superpower is increasingly isolating itself internationally.

US, Japan, India, and Australia have been sailing in the disputed seas to challenge China’s sweeping claims over important multi-billion-dollar international trade routes.

China claims sovereignty over the disputed waters. It issues radio warnings – if not outright challenges – against other claimants sailing or flying into their occupied areas and other nations exercising innocent passage.

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