BEIJING - The tweets from the Henan Daily said it all when an American company whose name is synonymous with pork was approved for sale to a Chinese company.
"Shuanghui wins glory for Henan people, and adds luster to the China Dream," the state-run newspaper said.
The line was meant to trumpet ruling Communist Party propaganda that seeks to counter the "American Dream" with one of its own. But China's International Finance News may have said it best with its headline: "Shuanghui 'eats' American pigs."
China's swallowing up of Smithfield, a well-known U.S. brand founded by a father and son who began smoking hogs in 1936 in rural Virginia, illustrates two things about the country: its swelling economic power and growing hunger for meat-based diets.
And the deal may foretell of many takeovers to come.
"This is a terrifically good, symbolic deal," said James McGregor, the Beijing-based chairman of U.S. consulting firm APCO Worldwide China and author of books on China business.
"Even though the U.S. is open to Chinese investment, the issues with Huawei and CNOOC, and a couple of others, created an atmosphere and view in China that the U.S. is not open to Chinese investment," he said. "This shows we are. We needed a headline deal."
Shareholders of Smithfield, the world's largest pork processor, voted Tuesday to approve Shuanghui's $4.7 billion buyout. The biggest ever takeover of a U.S. company by a China firm is being cheered by Chinese people nationwide but nowhere more than hardscrabble Henan, the home province of Shuanghui International, the sausage king of China.
People from Henan often suffer discrimination in China as residents of other provinces. Beijing and Shanghai look down upon the millions of migrant workers from Henan who strive to make a living away from their poor, crowded and mostly rural province in central China.
The Smithfield deal is a rare chance for Henan to enjoy the media spotlight after a series of attempted Chinese takeovers of U.S. firms in recent years were stopped by U.S. authorities on security grounds.
The pork will be going one way for the most part. China imports of pork tripled from 2005 to 2010 to 2 million tons. China's International Finance News reported that Shuanghui was unlikely to send Chinese pork to the U.S. anytime soon because of constant food safety scandals that still rock mainland China.
But whether the Chinese will like American pork is not known. Huang Qinwen, 75, said it better be cheap.
"If we see U.S. pork in here, the price will be key, and its quality," said Huang, as he bought hams with his wife in a Jingkelong supermarket in central Beijing. "There are many fake products in China, so food safety is very important."
Sold as Shineway in English, the Shuanghui brands at the store where Huang was shopping ranged from under a dollar for four maize-based sausages to just over $3 for a block of "sandwich ham."
"I want to buy real goods, hygienic, with no additives. We only buy familiar brands like Shuanghui."
Many Chinese express worries about China's numerous food safety issues. Shuanghui faces an ongoing war at home to convince Chinese consumers highly suspicious after years of adulteration scandals by multiple food suppliers
To promote its brand, Shuanghui announced last month it will become the official supplier of meat to China's national swimming team. But that carries risks in China, where a world-beating, Communist Party-controlled athletic system has been convicted in the past of cheating to win.
Among the ways China's athletes have cheated is by using banned stimulants. Some athletes claim the blame lies with pork supplies tainted by clenbuterol, a banned fast-growth drug widely used in the Chinese pig industry.
Another risk for Shuanghui is whether diets will change in China. Some nutritionists in China have been warning consumers against eating too much processed meat such as Shuanghui's ham and sausages.
Yet for many Chinese, especially the younger generation, pork products remain the most affordable and widely available fast food, often combined with instant noodles.
But the greatest challenge remains food safety, an issue Shuanghui appears to be trying to tackle.
The firm is sponsoring a TV cartoon series, Shuanghui Big Forest, to raise issues of safety and brand awareness among China's sausage-chomping children. On "Sausage Island," a wise grandpa expertly cooks sausages. His grandchildren along with many sausage characters protect him from an evil witch determined to steal his recipe, slip poison in and thus control the human race.
Pork is just one overseas acquisition China has its eye on, McGregor said.
Future Chinese purchases in the United States will target technology in the automobile and manufacturing sectors, or even brand-name consumer goods, without having to be labeled "sensitive," McGregor said. But there is no guarantee of success, as some firms have suffered when trying to expand.
"Many Chinese companies do not have a clear strategy and some just make hasty decisions when going abroad," Ma Weihua, former chairman of China Merchants Bank, said at a meeting in Dalian.
"And some companies lack sufficient knowledge of local culture and institutional risks," he said, reported the Global Times newspaper in comments that could also apply to U.S. firms who have come unstuck in China.
These remain difficult times for many U.S. firms in China, as they tackle an economic slowdown, restrictive business practices and hostile government attitudes. But when firms such as Shuanghui expand and operate in new, overseas markets, that creates reciprocity demands from governments for equal treatment within China, McGregor said.
"The more Chinese companies invest overseas, the better it will be for foreign companies here," he said.
Contributing: Sunny Yang