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A U.S. senator wants his government to block a Chinese state-owned company's takeover of Calgary-based Nexen Inc. as a means to press China on its trade policy.

Charles Schumer made his argument in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who also chairs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

The deal needs approval from regulators in the U.S., because although Nexen is based in Canada, it has offshore holdings in the country's Gulf of Mexico.

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The New York Democrat says he's not against the $15.1-billion deal on its merits – China's largest-ever offshore transaction.

But he says the U.S. shouldn't pass up an opportunity to exert pressure on China to open up its markets and treat trading partners on a level playing field.

The friendly deal between Nexen and China National Offshore Oil Co. also needs approval from Investment Canada and the Competition Bureau.

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