Bruce was not allowed on the touchline in Shanghai because of a visa issue, but saw an encouraging performance.
Striker Yoshinori Muto scored the only goal in the first half, guiding home Jamie Sterry’s cross from the right.
West Ham improved after half-time but Felipe Anderson’s header that clipped the bar was as close as they came.
Bruce’s appointment has been unpopular with some Newcastle fans but, after taking training this week, he saw his side produce a much-improved showing from their 4-0 defeat by Wolves in their opening game of the tournament on Wednesday.
The Magpies changed to a 3-5-2 formation and should have taken the lead through 19-year-old striker Elias Sorensen before Muto’s goal, but the Dane shot over from six yards.