By Barbara Hall, CNN
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(CNN) – For the past several years China has been on a spending spree. Chinese companies are working with their government to acquire assets all over the world. Things like technology companies, banks, ports and real estate.
But last week's announcement that a Chinese meat producer had agreed to buy Virginia-based Smithfield Foods raised more than a few eyebrows. That's because Smithfield is the world's largest processor of pork, selling ham, hot dogs and bacon under popular brand names like Armor and Farmland.
University of California-Irvine economist Peter Navarro worries that deals like this one help China gain too much control over the American economy:
[1:31] “We're getting deeper and deeper into debt with a country that doesn't have our best interests at heart. This is not Canada. This is not Great Britain. It's a country which is growing the biggest military in the world to challenge us .”
State and local chambers of commerce have long welcomed Chinese investment to boost local job markets. Thilo Hanemann, who tracks Chinese investment for the economic research firm Rhodium Group, says deals like the Smithfield acquisition are just good business:
[2:03] “Those investment flows are increasingly flowing from China to the U.S. which opens up a lot of opportunities in terms of local jobs, local tax revenue, and that's why a lot of mayors and governors are starting to go to China to promote this investment.”
The Smithfield buyout is not yet a done deal. It must first be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.