The force behind China's biggest takeover of an American company is a 71-year-old meat-packing entrepreneur dubbed "China's Chief Butcher" by the press who built an empire on his country's voracious appetite for pork.

The $4.7 billion bid for Smithfield Foods by Wan Long, chairman of Shuanghui International, is another big step up for Chinese entrepreneurs who are emerging from the shadow of state-owned corporate giants and expanding on the global stage.

Under pressure to keep economic growth strong, the new government of President Xi Jinping has promised a bigger role and lighter regulatory burden to entrepreneurs who generate China's jobs and wealth. Still, it is unclear how far the ruling Communist Party is willing to go in making crucial changes including curbing the dominance of state industry.