Arvidsson battled for nearly 2 1/2 hours before ousting the fifth-seeded Kvitova 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-3. Arvidsson had a pair of service breaks in each set.
She was good on 70 percent of her first serves and ended up winning 58 percent of the points on serve. That includes a third set when she dropped just eight points over four games and saved all four of the break points Kvitova managed.
Dominika Cibulkova roared by seventh-seeded Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-2 and Ana Ivanovic was on the court just 71 minutes in eliminating 16th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-3.
Also in second-round play Tamira Paszek beat Petra Cetkovska 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.
World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, opened defense of her China Open title with a 3-6, 6-0, 7-5 win over Lucie Hradecka. Wozniacki turned the match in the second set when she won nearly three-quarters of the points.
Flavia Pennetta sent China's Peng Shuai to the sidelines with a 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 decision another first-round match.