So I'm having some trouble with my old Iphone.

The problem that I'm having is that About a year ago one of my friends bought me an Iphone when he went to China
And all was good. But then the phone broke and wouldn't turn on so I took it down to the apple store and asked for a replacement.
they told me that they could replace it but they would have to order a Iphone FROM CHINA because it was bought there and that was the only way that I could get it replaced. But anyways about 2-3 weeks later I got the phone BUT then when I put my sim card in it told me that I needed valid a sim card (from the carrier that I bought the phone from) so its kind of like its locked to that carrier. And apple couldn't get it for me and when I called the carrier no one understood English and it was like I was talking to a bunch of 4 Year old's

so is there any way to bypass activation without the orginal carrier simcard so that I can get into the phone to switch my carrier.
I've tried a couple of things and even gotten one of those blank sim cards that are "supposedly" able to unlock it (but don't)

I'm asking here as a last resort.