At least 26 people were injured during the shaking, which caused residents to rush out of their homes.
The China Earthquake Networks Center said the 5.3 magnitude jolt struck at 6:40 a.m. local time about 6 miles beneath the Xiluodu municipal area, near the border with Sichuan province.
Southwest China is prone to deadly and destructive earthquakes, with a quake last September in the Yunnan tourist area of Shangri-La killing three people and leaving 55,000 homes damaged.
A 6.6 magnitude earthquake last April in Sichuan province killed about 200 people.
It struck five years after almost 90,000 perished in a huge temblor that inflicted catastrophic damage to the same region.