I'm in Guilin China for the Connect 2007 Asia conference. I've got the Tor bundle (Tor & Privoxy & Vidalia) installed on my laptop so I can get around the Great China Firewall (GCF) and that works well. Tor starts up automatically when my PC starts, but I only use it for browsing (by clicking the Tor button for Firefox) if I can't reach a site directly. Yes, it's noticeably slower going through Tor, but it always works. For example, just now, seeking the URLs to paste in about the GCF, I could get Rebecca MacKinnon's post directly, but timed out on this from Gigaom. I clicked the Tor button, hit retry and the Gigaom post loaded. So, the Tor bundle is a good setup which I highly recommend if you are traveling to China.
The bigger problem for me at the moment is basic throughput. The Sheraton Hotel Guilin (where the conference is being held) has wired Internet connectivity in the rooms for 50 Yuan ($6.65) per day and free WiFi in the lobby, but only WiFi from China Mobile (CMCC) in the conference area (100 Yuan per day through the hotel business center for those of us without a China Mobile phone number).
Performance is roughly equivalent for all three connections. Early in the morning or late at night (perhaps during the night, but I do have to sleep sometime), everything works well. It's not the blazing speed I sometimes see in Beijing, but it works. Here are the results in my room at 7:37am against a server in Shenzhen (300 miles away):a test against a server in Los Angeles:
My guess: There's a significant capacity problem between Guilin and the rest of China. Not surprising I suppose, considering Guilin is a tourist city, not a business city.