Chinese state media have denounced the furious US Congressional opposition to state-owned Cnooc's attempted takeover of US rival Unocal, saying the notion of the US "as a self-appointed champion of the free market has become questionable". On Thursday Cnooc withdrew its US18.5bn cash bid for Unocal, leaving the way open for Chevron's non-controversial but lower bid of US$17.4bn in cash and stocks. The China Daily said Chinese companies expanding abroad would learn a bitter lesson. It said the high-profile takeover battle showed the world the US is not a free economy and an asset for sale has not gone to the highest bidder "because of regulatory concerns fueled by bogus fears and hidden interests". It said unjustified US opposition would "poison" the bilateral atmosphere. Cnooc's shares rose as much as 5.5% after it withdrew its bid, reflecting investor relief that the costly bid had been scrapped.