One simple fact is that the Chinese internet is mainly used by Chinese people. Logical isn't it?
For example, it means when you use Baidu instead of google, you will find what most Chinese people want to search. (??) And it is still not the first source of data as China is by many still not the most innovative country in the world.
However when you search google, you will find data that most of the world search including some privileged (smart ?) Chinese people!
The same goes for videos, when you search youku, instead of youtube, you will find what Chinese people search. You will of course have some foreign videos put online by Chinese people but it has its limits.
As Chinese people change fast, you now have some quality content on the Chinese internet. This is particularly true for some specialities such as photography.
Still as a foreigner in China most feel the need to access the "whole" internet.
I share here some of my knowledge and the advises of my friends. (thank you again for this).
You can use a VPN to change your computer adress.
Chinese VPN servers may be based in HK, or other countries located in the surrounding area because they are targeted at Chinese users. Chinese users will often be visiting websites based in Mainland China, so the VPN server must be near the country to keep speeds fast.
Westerners on the other hand, need a server based as close as possible to the country of origin for the web server. Browsing western websites will always load much faster through a VPN closer to the home country than to China, and also on the flipside, Chinese websites will now load very slowly because you're routing the traffic destined for the country you're currently located in to the other side of the world, then back again. Free Third party proxies can sniff out passwords if they so choose to, that's why I only use commercial VPN's. As for commercal VPNs, this doesn't apply. VPN traffic is encrypted and it would take a significant amount of time and force to decrypt this traffic, even on the weakest authentication (PPTP).
It's not promoted by the authorities but fortunately not forbidden either. Christian
, a Scandinavian studying in Beijing.