Hao Junmin opened the scoring for the hosts in the fifth minute, with Germany responding two minutes later through Lukas Podolski.
While lively China threatened on several occasions to find a winner, Germany's only other notable chance was a free-kick from Thomas Hitzlsperger on the hour mark.
German coach Joachim Loew is missing 17 players including captain Michael Ballack from the post-season Asian tour, which will also feature a match in Dubai on Tuesday.
The outcome was nevertheless a disappointment for the visitors, who are ranked second in the world, 95 positions above a perennially underperforming China playing its first match under coach Gao Hongbo.
"We saw that several things didn't go well. We were too slow in the build-up," said Loew.
Forward Mario Gomez, whose scoreless run is now 15 games, said: "We expected something else. We wanted to win, but China was very agile."
Christian Gentner of VfB Stuttgart made his debut and Robert Huth of Middlesbrough returned from a three-year absence in the starting 11. Stuttgart striker Cacau also got his maiden cap when he came on in the 63rd minute for the Bayern Munich-bound Gomez.
China made a dream start to the game when Hao got on the end of a through-ball, sped past Huth and blasted a shot past Robert Enke from a tight right angle for a 1-0 lead.
But Germany responded almost instantly. A Podolski shot a minute later missed by a matter of inches, and 60 seconds after that he made it 1-1 with a low shot off the back of a nice feed from Bastian Schweinsteiger.
But the Germans were unable to impose themselves as the speedy Chinese, based around Shanghai Shenhua forward Gao Lin, made life as difficult as they could for the visitors.
Enke had to save from Zhao Xuri in the 24th and Gao threatened with a header in the 37th. The second half passed in similar fashion with Huth blocking Jiang Ning at the last instance in the 58th and Jiang denied by Enke later in the game.
Germany's only notable chance after the break came from Hitzlsperger's free-kick which was tipped over the bar by Yang Zhi. Schweinsteiger then aimed wide with eight minutes left.
Editor: Nick Amies