Fangzhuo Dong fired a late equaliser to save China's blushes as the hosts came within two minutes of going down to 10-man New Zealand only to salvage a 1-1 draw.
The Kiwis, who were at a numerical disadvantage from the moment Steven Old saw red for a second yellow card in 39 minutes, put on an intelligent and determined display that looked to have gained its reward when Jeremy Brookie fired them in front on 53 minutes. China, however, fought back to claim a point, delighting a crowd that had noisily backed them from the first whistle.
With this passionate support behind them, the Chinese had dominated the first half, with their only failing an inability to translate their territorial superiority into clear-cut chances. New Zealand, on the other hand, seemed content to soak up pressure from the hosts, allowing the Chinese to monopolise possession, yet always looked dangerous on the couter-attack.
The dismissal of Old did little to alter this pattern, and seven minutes after the restart, Craig Henderson lofted a clever pass forward to Brockie, who took the ball on the bounce to smash an emphatic shot past the helpless goalkeeper. With the deadlock broken and the points seemingly within reach, New Zealand resorted to some brave, last-gasp defending in an attempt to hold on to their lead, although they also profited from some wasteful finishing from the increasingly anxious hosts.
Certainly, when Niang Jiang's shot was defelected on to the crossbar with 14 minutes remaining, there must have been plenty within the stadium left wondering if this wasn't to be China's day. That, however, was until Dong popped up with just two minutes remaining, leaping above his marker to head home a pinpoint cross from Wangsong Tan and spark ecstacy among the home fans.
The result keeps both sides within two points of Group C leaders Brazil, who beat Belgium 1-0 in the section's earlier kick-off.