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In the debate over whether the partially state-owned energy company, China’s CNOOC, should be given the go-ahead by Ottawa to take over Calgary-based Nexen, there is the danger that the discussion will be cast in an adversarial east-west context.

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The proposed sale of Nexen Inc. to China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) is being applauded by some as potentially opening the doors to Asian oil and gas markets and providing an assured source of capital for resource development. On the other hand, some regard it as yet another sale of Canadian petroleum resources to foreign interests that could have serious long-term implications for Canadian energy security.