Even without using my VPN, I've had no trouble reaching NYTimes.com or similar Western news sites in recent days from Shenzhen or Beijing. And that's from my same old apartment-house ISP in Beijing that is subject to all the standard Great Firewall strictures. (For chapter and verse on how the Great Firewall works, go here.)
But today I heard from one reader in Chengdu, another in a different part of Beijing, and another in Guangzhou that they were suddenly not able to reach the NYT site. Very few things in China happen in a consistent, everywhere-at-once way. But I am curious about whether something larger is underway.
If you're within Chinese territory could you try NYTimes.com without using a proxy or VPN and see whether you can get through? If you send me a note, via the "email me" feature on this site, and tell me what city you're in and whether you got through, I'll post the accumulated results when there are enough to show some pattern. All I'm looking for is: "Xian, YES" if you CAN get through, or "Shenyang, NO" if you can't. I won't reply to those messages but will tally them up and report later. Thanks!
UPDATE: I have already heard from several people that the main page of the NYT comes up but the links are disabled. (This is consistent with one of the patterns of GFW blocking I mentioned in an article on the topic.) So could you click a link, too, to see if it works? I have gotten a lot more "NO" replies, indicating problems, than YESes so far.