China spent four years fighting for market-economy status, a designation that would give it stronger footing with commercial partners while also curtailing their ability to retaliate over trade disputes.

This week, China quietly lost that battle.

The Chinese government allowed a landmark World Trade Organization dispute — aimed at forcing the European Union to recognize it as a market economy in trade investigations — to lapse on June 15. The case was initially brought in 2016 and China lost an interim ruling on the matter last year.