Shanghai:France's Raphael Jacquelin shot a four-under-par 67 to grab the sole lead midway through the China Open on Friday.
Jacquelin stood at 135 after two rounds, two strokes ahead of Australia's Adam Blyth, who also had a second round 67.
Andres Romero of Argentina and Australian Scott Hend also had rounds of 67 to share third place three strokes off the pace, while Simon Yates of Scotland fired a 66 to finish a stroke back.
Graeme McDowell and Damien McGrane of Northern Ireland, Sweden's Christopher Hanell and Markus Brier of Australia shared sixth place with 140 at the Shanghai Silport Golf Club's 6,468-meter (7,073-yard) course.
Past winner Stephen Dodd of Wales fired a convincing 67 to enter the second half of the tournament at one-under 141, while Danish Ryder Cup star Thomas Bjorn was at even-par 142 after shooting a round of 72.
Last year's winner Jeev Milkha Singh is not defending his title, having elected to stay in the United States following his debut at the Masters.
Golfers from no less than 40 nations are competing at this year's Open, co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, vying for a purse of $2 million ( 1.5 million), including $333,390 ( 248,000) for the winner.
Sponsor Volvo plans to move the tournament to Beijing next year ahead of the Chinese capital's staging of the 2008 Olympic Games.