The two-time gold medal winners had looked poised for a routine win when they took the opening two sets but were forced to regroup when Turkey took a marathon third.
The Europeans were clearly ready to go the distance having played out five sets against Brazil on Saturday, but Yu Juemin's efficient side went on to record a hard-fought victory (25-20 25-20 29-31 25-22).
Wang Yimei was again impressive for China with 14 points – all of them spikes – but she was overshadowed by Hui Ruoqi, who contributed 21.
Eda Erdem Dundar offered some Turkish resilience with 13 blocks at the net, but it was not enough to get Marco Aurelio Motta's side off the mark for the tournament.
They will next look to do so against Serbia, while China head to a tasty-looking clash with the USA.