In 3 years ago, total 2 answers.
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Most of those Internet cafe(网吧) won't allow you plug your own laptop, and they will require your Chinese citizen ID(身份证) before you use.
But for many of nice cafe or tea shop, they will have free wifi, and I believe Starbucks in China will also have wifi access (though not sure if it's free).
You should also be able to buy prepaid card for WiFi access from China Mobile and China Telecom, CNC, etc. Go to a branch of them and buy one so you will be to access it from many public places with WiFi hotspot.