The German was the only seed in action on Sunday at the penultimate Masters 1000 tournament of the ATP season and he ensured there was no major upset with victory over Ryan Harrison.
Kohlschreiber, the 16th seed, won 6-4 6-4 to set up a second-round meeting with either Feliciano Lopez or Alejandro Falla.
In the day's other games, Fernando Verdasco beat Go Soeda 6-2 6-4 and Martin Klizan, the recent winner in St Petersburg, defeated Thomaz Bellucci 6-3 6-4.
Verdasco and Klizan will now face off in round two.
Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are all in the field in China but with all three having byes into the second round none will be in action until Tuesday at te earliest.