A red alert remained in effect for the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, which were expected to bear the brunt of the wind, rain and raging surf when the storm comes ashore Monday.
The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center said fishing boats were under orders to get back to port, and homes and businesses along the coast were being evacuated Sunday.
Bus and airline service was being shut down Sunday, China's Xinhua news agency said.
Fitow is the 23rd typhoon to hit China this year. The big storm was about 360 kilometers (224 miles) from the city of Fuding at midday and closing in at nearly 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) per hour, officials said.