China and Spain played out a 0-0 draw in their final World Cup Group B match on Monday and the result was good enough for both teams to advance to the last 16 after Germany beat South Africa 4-0 in the other game.
Germany progressed as group winners with a perfect record of three victories while Spain finished second on four points.
China also ended on four points with an inferior goal difference, but they are assured of a last-16 spot as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Spain dominated the first half with nine attempts on goal while China failed to take a single shot in the opening period.
But China's defence stood firm, setting themselves up in a 4-4-2 formation and trying to hit Spain on the counter-attack with Wang Shanshan and Wang Shuang leading the line.
China coach Jia Xiuquan replaced Wang Shanshan in the second half after she appeared to be struggling with an injury and Li Yang taking her place as Spain continued to waste chances.
Nahikari Garcia had a great opportunity to put Spain ahead when she burst into the box but her effort went wide of the post, much to Spain coach Jorge Vilda's frustration.
Spain will face either defending champions United States or Sweden in the next round while China must wait to see who they will play.