This week, China was rebuffed by the World Trade Organization over domestic restrictions on books and movies the WTO said amounted to protectionist trade practices.
China also dropped its insistence that imported computers be outfitted with censoring software this week. And China appears ready to drop the most serious espionage charges against four Rio Tinto employees concerning the price of imported iron ore, The New York Times reported Friday.
"This is a country in the middle of a big transition in its global role," said Kenneth Lieberthal, an experienced China analyst at the Brookings Institution.
In China, "there's a constant battle between agencies over how much political capital to expend on international issues against domestic interests," said Charles Freeman, a China scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Lately, international business appears to be winning the skirmishes against domestic policy.
Although China may appeal the decision, after the WTO ruling, foreign minister Yang Jiechi said, "China will never seek to advance its interests at the expense of others," in a speech in Switzerland, the Times reported.