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It is the first visit by a Chinese president to the Philippines in 13 years. Chinese President Xi Jinping called his visit to long-time US ally the Poke your allies xi i a "milestone", as he aimed to boost blossoming ties on the promise of billions of dollars in backing for mega-projects.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has proven a willing recipient of Beijing's attentions, declaring shortly after his election in his nation's "separation" from former colonial master the US. Chinese President Xi Jinping puases to pay respects to the national flags of both China and the Philippines during welcoming ceremony.

But over two years later, only a trickle of funding has arrived, prompting critics to question whether Duterte has been duped into pivoting toward China and giving too much ground on the South China Sea dispute. Xi landed in Manila to a red-carpet welcome at the airport for the first state visit from a Chinese president in 13 years, which Manila hopes will finally net those investment deals.

It is an historic occasion," Duterte said in welcoming Xi to the presidential palace, referring to his Beijing visit. The Chinese leader offered similarly sweeping remarks, saying: China Poke your allies xi i disbursed tens of billions of dollars in loans since as it expands its political influence globally, countering the American hegemony that characterised the post-World War II order, especially in Asia.

A student rallyist holds a slogan beside a mask with a face of Chinese President Xi Jinping as they protest against his visit.

However, even before Xi's arrival, hundreds of protestors descended on the Chinese embassy to voice opposition to closer ties with Beijing. Critics are most concerned over Duterte's decision to set aside a major ruling from an international tribunal that declared as without basis Beijing's expansive claim over the waterway, in favour of courting Chinese investment.

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A survey of 1, adults out Tuesday said 84 percent of Filipinos disagreed with taking a laissez-faire approach on Beijing's moves to build infrastructure and install military equipment in the sea. That stance flared onto Philippine Twitter and Facebook, where feeds were flooded Tuesday with Winnie the Pooh memes in a winking expression of anti-China sentiment stirred by Xi's visit.

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The self-described "bear of very little brain" has been used in the past on social media to poke fun at the portly Chinese leader, a joke that has drawn crackdowns from Beijing's censors. Student rallyist burn a Chinese flag as they protest against the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Filipino analyst Richard Heydarian said China's pledges induced Manila to "soft-pedal" on the South China Sea issue, but Beijing failed to hold up its end of the bargain. Gregory Wyatt, director for business intelligence at PSA Philippines Consultancy, said big projects face many barriers in the Philippines, like right-of-way issues, regulatory approvals and political dissent.

Chinese investments in the Philippines surged more than five-fold in the first six months of the year after a 67 percent expansion last year, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a Manila visit last month.

Chinese investors have poured money into online gaming, real estate, service providers and stakes in Poke your allies xi i Filipino firms, but not into large-scale infrastructure or manufacturing, Wyatt said. Download our free app Poke your allies xi i the App Store or Google Play for the latest headlines and breaking news alerts. Sign up now for the latest news from Australia and around the world direct to your inbox.

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