My oldest child (
goes to international school as he didn't speak Chinese when we moved here and didn't take kindly to being put into an immersion environment (immersion in terms of language AND culture, the educational style of a Chinese kindergarten is very different from a Western kindergarten).
Second son (almost 5) has been here since age 1 and is very happy at Chinese kindergarten (and not one of the fancy expensive ones, a very ordinary one). There is lots of structure but that's not a bad thing, he gets plenty of play/running around time including kungfu lessons, and he is learning the all-important social skills and "listen to the teacher" skills that I think are all a 4-yr old needs. We have the occasional differences of opinion with the management, for example when he had settled on being left-handed they encouraged him to use his right hand until I asked them not to, but generally I am very happy with the education and care he has received so far. We hope to keep him in Chinese education system for at least the first two years of primary school as this is the best way to give him a solid foundation in Chinese, then we will reassess and may move him to international school.
So in my experience it would be wrong to dismiss Chinese education out of hand, especially for a pre-school age child, as I do think there are alternatives to prohibitively expensive international schools. For example, here in Chengdu there is a Steiner school which offers a very "alternative" style of education to Chinese and expat children so it's well worth doing research into all the options.