If you can't get your goods into China via the front door, there's always the back. Apple is now selling its iPhone 3G unlocked via its on-line Apple Store in Hong Kong. The 8GB model sells for HK$5,500 (about US$694) or HK$6,200 (about $797) for the 16 gigger. Already available since July 11th with a local Hutchison Telecommunications contract, this is the first time that Apple has sold its device unlocked in Hong Kong:

"iPhone 3G purchased at the Apple Online Store can be activated with any wireless carrier. Simply insert the SIM from your current phone into iPhone 3G and connect to iTunes 8 to complete activation."

Unfortunately for the 1 billion mainland Chinese, the terms and conditions limit sales to those in Hong Kong only -- not that the gray market cares about T&Cs. It'll be interesting to see if Apple extends the unlocking more broadly (presumably as exclusivity deals expire) or if this is strictly a local phenomena, perhaps in direct response to having its WiFi and the imperialistic 3G gutted from handsets sold under Apple's rumored China Mobile deal.