Two years since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte began warming up to China in exchange for promised investments, Manila is still waiting for the financing.
In 2016, Duterte secured $24 billion in investment, credit and loan pledges from Chinese President Xi Jinping's government to upgrade his country's infrastructure. But Xi's government has yet to deliver.
To date, Beijing has promised Manila 10 big-ticket infrastructure projects but only one has moved toward implementation, political scientist Richard Heydarian told CNBC. In the meantime, Duterte has been "soft peddling on the South China Sea disputes and towing the Chinese line," he said.
China and the Philippines have contesting territorial claims in the South China Sea, an international waterway that Beijing largely claims as its own despite nearly unanimous diplomatic opinion to the contrary.
Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino launched a formal case against China over the matter and in 2016, the Hague tribunal ruled in favor of Manila, invalidating Beijing's claims. Chinese officials, however, dismissed that ruling. Critics say Duterte has not done enough to demand China's compliance on the issue.
A few months after the court's decision, the Philippine leader made a dramatic about-turn on foreign policy in declaring a separation from Manila's historic ally, the United States — choosing instead to align with Beijing. Duterte's alliance with the Communist country has angered many Filipinos who accuse him of making geopolitical concessions in the South China Sea for Chinese capital that has yet to materialize.