After rain interrupted the opening days of the tournament, Sharapova said: "It's been a long wait for everyone, it hasn't been easy". The Swiss defeated fifth seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-2 6-3.
Home hope Peng thrashed Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0 6-1 in their quarter-final while Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus beat local hope Zhu Lin 6-3 6-4 in another quarter-final and awaits the victor of the match between Christina McHale and Sara Errani.
The Pole had made it to the second round of the Tianjin Open following a victory over Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko.
Also on Thursday, Lin Zhu cruised to a 6-3, 6-1 win over Chinese Taipei's Su-Wei Hsieh, Belarus' Aryna Sabalenkaposted a 6-3, 6-3 triumph versus China's Ying-Ying Duan and Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo needed three sets to record a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 victory over China's Yafan Wang.