Is it possible to travel independently in China?
Yes. I would post this in the Solo travel section of Trip Advisor forums or in the China section of the Trip Advisor forums, or both. You will much better information.
Maybe borrow a guidebook on China from your local public library, they can be useful when planning your own trip as they contain details of visa requirements. Itineraries, maps, public transport, etc.
To research China on Tripadvisor-
Every city, region, Island and country has its own travel forum on here. Plus there are other Beyond Destination forums on travel topics and themes. Here's the forums homepage link to save or bookmark -
You can search for a specific city forum by clicking on the magnifying glass search icon at the top right side of this website page. Then on the search bar - left side type in 'Forum' and on the right side replace "World" with a city name. The forum pages are best viewed on the full website, not the limited Tripadvisor APP. Or often it’s easier to go to Google and type in a city or country name and the words forum Tripadvisor, eg. Shanghai forum TripAdvisor or China forum Tripadvisor.
Do some reading on some forums for cities in China and see how others are planning their independent travels there.