Els is hoping to become the first three-time winner of the tournament, which is being held for the first time in mainland China. Els won the event in 1997 and 2003.
Spain's Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott of Australia, Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, England's Nick Faldo and defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain are also in the field. Asian players Zhang Lianwei and Liang Wenchong of China and South Korea's Choi Kyung-ju are also entered.
The tournament is being played on the Pine Valley Golf Resort course, designed by Hall of Famer Jack Nicklaus. The winner takes home more than $397,000.
Some information for this report provided by AP.