something i came across a while back which is quite useful...
if you scroll to the bottom of the page, there is an entry box which you can use by supplying the URL of any site you think might be triggering China's erratic net-policing policies. great for accessing BBC news or any western blogs with 'sensitive' content !
The restrictions have been getting noticeably worse the past few months. At this point most of the foreign blog-hosting services have been cut off. Blogspot, Blogsome, Type pad, Word press are all inaccessible.
I've been using a plug-in for Firefox called gladder, which is basically an automatic proxy service.
Here's the description and download page:
Firefox is a great browser, it has the best cross-platform compatibility and with this 'gladder' extension it seems even more viable. hopefully more people will switch to it.
as a follow up to the 'amandas-proxy' submission above, as of Sunday July 1st, it seem to have hit China's 'hitlist' and been blocked
at the time i'd been noticing erratic behaviour with my ADSL connection - dropped connections almost constantly, firewall was going nuts with inbound connection attempts... it sounds kinda paranoid but it's something worth considering and taking note of if you interested in researching 'sensitive' subjects.
Tor can be quite useful although incredibly slow.
If you have firefox however you can download an extension called Foxyproxy (not sure of the link) which lets you create rules for which pages are opened using Tor so that you dont have to slow down your whole system. Eg, in firefox you can have one tab displaying gokunming without using a proxy and another tab displaying BBC news through the tor proxy.
There are better alternatives but you have to pay for them. For the last month I've been trying out www.strongvpn.com/ - Its a little pricey but works a lot better and faster than any of the free proxies - it puts all of your internet communication (web browsers, email clients, msn, skype etc) through a virtual private network somewhere in the USA.
If you have some web space anywhere, and the web space provider supports PHP, you can load a copy of PHP Proxy into it and create your own web proxy server.
Not perfect, but free and no ads and so little traffic they are unlikely to notice it.
However, I agree a VPN solution is better, if pricey. Looking at the government's web site you'd think they had already dropped this neurosis. Maybe what we are seeing is the death throes of a pointless activity.