Bernd Wiesberger saw his lead trimmed to one shot as the Shenzhen International set itself up for a dramatic finish at Genzon Golf Club.
The Austrian entered the day with a three-shot advantage and while he turned in one under par 35 to get to 16 under, he had Ross Fisher breathing down his neck.
The Englishman picked up four shots in his first ten holes to sit a shot clear of the surging Fabrizio Zanotti, Alexander Levy and David Lipsky.
Wiesberger put his tee-shot on the par three third to ten feet for a first birdie of the day but then gave the stroke back on the tough fifth.
An approach to six feet on the seventh saw him back into red numbers for the day but he could not take his birdie chance after he hit the green on the par five ninth in two.
Fisher opened with a bogey but got the shot back on the third and really came to life from the sixth, making a hat-trick of birdies including a stunning right-to-left putt on the seventh. Another good putt on the tenth then had him within one shot of the lead.
Zanotti had been within one of Wiesberger as he surged through the field but a bogey on the 14th stalled his momentum.
The Paraguayan made gains on the third, fifth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 11th, 12th and 13th before missing a short one.
Levy is a course-specialist, holding the course record and winning here at the Volvo China Open in 2014, and he made five birdies and a bogey in his first 11 holes.
Lipsky birdied the second and fourth - courtesy of a nerveless 20-footer - and while he dropped a shot on the sixth, he bounced back with gains on the seventh and ninth.
Tommy Fleetwood had four birdies and an eagle in his first 14 to sit at 13 under alongside Grégory Bourdy.
There was then a group of eight players four shots off the lead.