“We intend to drill oil there, if it’s yours, well, that’s your view, but my view is I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth, because it is ours,” Mr. Duterte quoted Mr. Xi as telling him.
Mr. Duterte described Mr. Xi’s position as: “We’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you,” but “if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.”
Mr. Duterte did not say when the exchange with Mr. Xi took place, but his national security adviser, Hermogenes Esperon, said the leaders discussed the issue during a recent meeting in Beijing on China’s “One Belt, One Road” trade and investment initiative.
The waters of the South China Sea are claimed by numerous countries, including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. The tribunal in The Hague affirmed the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, where it can access oil and gas fields. It also invalidated China’s so-called “nine-dash line,” an expansive sovereignty claim on Chinese maps.
The Chinese Embassy could not be reached for comment on Friday, but Mr. Duterte’s claims are widely expected to raise new tensions.
The 72-year-old Mr. Duterte, a former longtime mayor of Davao, is fond of making statements that provoke and at times befuddle the public.
His remarks about Mr. Xi came in one of his four scheduled speeches Friday, a day after China and the 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreed in principle to push for a draft framework of a “code of conduct” to govern actions in the region.
The agreement was reached after a meeting in the southern Chinese city of Guiyang, according to the Philippine Foreign Ministry.
“The Philippines welcomes the finalization by Asean and China senior officials of the draft of the framework of the code of conduct,” the ministry said on Friday, without providing details.
The document is to be presented to the foreign ministers of Asean and China at their post-ministerial conference in Manila in August, it said.
Also on Friday, the Philippine envoy to China, Jose Santiago Santa Romana, held a meeting with a Chinese vice minister for foreign affairs, Liu Zhenmin, to discuss the dispute over the South China Sea in a “frank, in-depth and friendly manner.” Both sides agreed to cooperate and “find ways forward,” the Philippine ministry said.
Both sides affirmed the importance of “maintaining and promotion of peace and stability, freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea, addressing their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means,” the ministry said.
Mr. Duterte has downplayed the conflict since taking office last year, taking a much less confrontational stance toward the disputed waters than his predecessor, Benigno S. Aquino III. He has drawn closer to China, in the hopes of attracting more Chinese investment, and has also distanced itself from a traditional ally, the United States.
On Friday, however, he warned that a war with China would “result in massacre” and “destroy everything.”