Jiangsu had won their previous three Chinese Super League matches without conceding a goal and victory would have taken them level on points with Guangzhou R&F in third.
However, they needed a late leveller to secure a point at the Hongkou Stadium after Giovanni Moreno's fifth league goal of the campaign gave Shenhua the lead just short of the half-hour mark.
Had they held on, Sergio Batista's side would have moved into mid-table and away from the drop zone but they were denied nine minutes from time as Elias struck to salvage a point for the visitors.
Because of the draw, Shanghai SIPG were able to move level on points with Jiangsu as they overcame Harbin Yiteng.
Bottom side Yiteng have picked up just five points from their 14 games in the Chinese top flight and could only hold out for just over half an hour at the Shanghai Stadium.
Li Haowen was the match-winner for the hosts, opening his account for the season after 34 minutes to keep his side in touch with the AFC Champions League places.
They now sit level on points with Jiangsu - a point behind Shandong Luneng in fourth and two behind Guangzhou R&F in third.
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