ASEAN member states leaders of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are in Manila to attend the summit.
Nearly all of the South China Sea, one of the world's busiest waterways, is claimed by China.
Washington is not among the claimants to the waterway, among the busiest in the world, but it has declared it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of the disputes.
"We have to be friends, the other hotheads would like us to confront China and the rest of the world on so many issues", Duterte said at a business conference.
China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, while Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all believe they have rights to certain parts. Several nations back an active American military presence in the region to serve as a counterweight to China's increasingly assertive actions, including the construction of seven man-made islands equipped with military installations.
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But on Sunday, Vietnam's state television said Chinese President Xi Jinping had told Vietnam's General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong he wanted to work with Southeast Asian nations on a code of conduct in the sea.
While the South China Sea was not as dominant an issue at this summit at a time of relative calm, there was an underlying acknowledgement amongst ASEAN members that the risk of a miscalculation in the disputed waterway could flare up at anytime.
"He knows that if he goes to war, everything will blow up".
Duterte, however, said the Chinese leader would not back down on Beijing's territorial claim and justified his decision not to immediately demand Chinese compliance with a ruling by a United Nations -linked tribunal that invalidated China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea on historical grounds.
While Li did not give a timeframe, Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte, who was chairing the regional summit, said China was being pressed to set a specific date and that Beijing responded it would "consider really fast-trackking" the code of conduct.
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The Chinese leader, however, would not back down on Beijing's territorial claim, Mr Duterte said.
Duterte has grown closer to China since he took office previous year and Vietnam has emerged as Beijing's main challenger in the area. I have done plenty of it from both sides.
"We tried to put some structures in one of the sandbars near our island and the Chinese reacted", Lorenzana told a diplomatic forum in Manila, adding that Duterte later ordered, "Let's pull out".
"We have to be able to separate, to expect these sovereignty claims".
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