Wu Ashun carded a 65 to open up a three shot lead and separate himself from the field midway through day two of the Volvo China Open.
The home favourite is the winning-most Chinese player in European Tour history with three victories - including this event in 2015 - but had just one top 40 finish in eight events on the 2019 Race to Dubai coming into this week.
He has turned that form on its head at Genzon Golf Club, following up his opening 66 with eight birdies and a bogey to get to 13 under.
Last week's winner Jorge Campillo was his nearest challenger after a second round 69, with Scott Jamieson, Jacques Kruyswijk and Matthieu Pavon six shots off the lead.
Wu started the day a shot behind overnight leader Campillo but picked up shots on the tenth and 13th and, with Campillo making his first bogey of the week on the same hole, there was a change at the top.
The Spaniard recovered with gains at the 14th, 17th and 18th but that could not keep pace with Wu, who made further birdies on the 15th and 17th to turn in 32.
Both players birdied the first and Wu then produced a moment of magic, chipping in at the third and he led by two shots.
The leader had a stroke of luck at the fifth as he got a free drop after his tee shot found a bush but his second was poor and he dropped a first shot of the day.
He bounced back from 12 feet on the seventh, however, and a beautiful bunker shot on the par five last handed him a closing birdie and a three shot lead.
Jamieson had rocketed up the leaderboard with a hat-trick of birdies from the second and two more on the sixth and seventh before dropping a shot on the eighth to turn in 32. Another gain came on the 11th but that was as good as it got for the Scot, with bogeys on the 15th and last seeing him sign for a 69.
Frenchman Pavon signed for the same score after turning in 37 but adding birdies on the first, second, third and eighth.
Kruyswijk carded a 67, the South African sandwiching a bogey on the fifth with birdies on the first, second, fourth, sixth, ninth and 11th.
China's Jin Cheng, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Wales' Stuart Manley were at six under.