Having recently been in China, we can report, much to our surprise, that the internet is not blocked if you use a VPN. The Chinese government is not as restrictive as some think. In many five-star hotels in Shanghai, for example, it is Google and Facebook galore. The Chinese do this because they want Westerners to feel comfortable–this attracts business and investment.
In Jiangsu Province, we used several different VPNs, and most of them worked. Is the internet actually blocked in China? Yes, for most people the internet is filtered, but if you ask a Chinese person about this they will say that it is for their benefit. Indeed, not having Google probably is a benefit.
We stayed connected to servers in the US, Japan, and Iceland, and connection speeds were strong.