The best way to rent an apartment for short-term in China is through internet. If you travel in China and want to stay in a city for a few days, you can seriously consider renting an apartment.First, you will have the benefit of living in a neighbourhood and hence observing the local life first-hand. Second, it is good value for money. The price you pay is cheaper than staying in a hotel but you can have all the comforts of living at home.
Take Hangzhou for instance. A clean, well-furnished apartment equipped with internet connection as shown in the photo above costs only 150 yuan per day.
Many major cities in China have a growing supply of such apartments, catering to the increasing demand in the domestic market. This has prompted the mushrooming of short-term rental websites, most of them in Chinese. So if you can read Chinese, this will be a great way for you to rent an apartment. There are some websites offering both Chinese and English versions, but the English version is much more brief.
This is a website I once used, which has a very comprehensive coverage of all the major cities in China. It has an English version, which has much less listing than the Chinese version, though.