In a dry race dictated by tyre choices and frequent pitstops, the Spaniard beat Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen by 10.1 seconds to make amends for crashing out of the previous race in Malaysia.
Lewis Hamilton completed a trio of world champions on the podium with third place for Mercedes after the Briton started on pole position.
The win was Alonso's second in China, where red is regarded as the colour of good fortune, and his first since Germany last July. It was also the 31st victory of his career - taking him to fourth in the all-time list alongside Britain's 1992 champion Nigel Mansell.
Result from the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus - Renault +00:10.168
3. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 00:12.322
5. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 00:35.285
13. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams - Renault 01:33.861
16. Charles Pic (France) Caterham - Renault 1 lap
17. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia - Cosworth 1 lap
18. Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham - Renault 1 lap
(rank: r = retired, nc = not classified)
Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel,1:36.808, lap 53.
Driver and constructor standings after the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 49
4. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 40
8. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 12
16. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 0
19. Charles Pic (France) Caterham 0
21. Giedo van der Garde (Netherlands) Caterham 0
22. Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia 0
1. RedBull - Renault 78
2. Ferrari 73
3. Lotus - Renault 60
4. Mercedes 52
5. McLaren - Mercedes 14
5. Force India - Mercedes 14
7. Toro Rosso - Ferrari 7
8. Sauber - Ferrari 5
9. Williams - Renault 0
10. Marussia - Cosworth 0
11. Caterham - Renault 0