Chen, the 1.95m center, scored 18 of her points and grabbed 10 of her boards in the first half when the Chinese, coached by former New Zealand boss Tom Maher, went in front by 18 before going to half-time with a 48-31 stranglehold on the game.
China out-rebounded New Zealand 46-29.
The win means China have improved to 2-1 and moved back into second place above Spain (also 2-1), a team they beat on opening day, in Group B.
The Tall Ferns, who have dropped two straight since beginning the tournament with a victory over Mali, know they must now upset the Czech Republic if they are to keep alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
Their last game is against one of the gold-medal favourites, the United States.
Jillian Harmon and Angela Marino each had 14 points for New Zealand.
Maher engineered the Tall Ferns’ unexpected run to the quarter-finals four years ago in Athens and one of his assistants in that team was current New Zealand coach Mike McHugh.
That Kiwi side had to beat China in its last game to advance to the last eight.FIBA