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China-backed projects have faced stringent reviews, public backlash and cancellations, posing a challenge for Duterte as he tries to use Chinese money to build infrastructure, create jobs -- and to cement his legacy. (Nikkei photo illustration/Source photo by Reuters)
The Big Story

Duterte struggles to sell his China pivot at home

Little has come of Beijing's $45bn of promised investment. But the Philippine president is doubling down

CLIFF VENZON, Nikkei staff writer | Philippines

SUBIC, Philippines -- A five-minute speedboat ride from Luzon, Grande Island is one of the closest white sand beach resorts to the Philippine capital of Manila. Once part of a major U.S. naval base in the Pacific, it was handed back in the 1990s and taken over by the tourist trade.

Last year, the local investors who hold the lease on the island agreed a deal with Sanya Group, a Chinese resort developer, who pledged to invest $298 million to turn the 44-hectare island into Manila's answer to the Maldives. The deal was formalized in April, on the sidelines of China's Belt and Road summit in Beijing. A few weeks later, it all fell apart.

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