The tariff retreat is an attempt to seek a “truce,” said Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank, which advises the government on trade issues. “It is a face-saving gesture to continue meeting in September.”

While a senior U.S. official has said explicitly that the reprieve isn’t meant as an olive branch toward Beijing, the move was likely received in China both as a conciliatory gesture and as an implicit admission that by levying tariffs on Chinese goods, the U.S. would be hurting its own economy, experts said.

For China, the tariff delay, which will exempt planned levies on smartphones, toys and other Chinese-made consumer products, offers some breathing room as President Xi Jinping is grappling with a restive population in Hong Kong, and preparing for the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule on Oct. 1.