I am working with a visiting scholar from China, and part of my collaborative process is to use a shared document through the cloud based LaTeX service called Overleaf. The scholar I am working with said that she cannot use Overleaf because she is Chinese and that China doesn't allow "Google."

I know that there are Chinese researchers that use GitHub, for instance, so cloud based storage can't be completely out. It's hard for me to get a straight answer, since her English is spotty. I'm not sure where the connection between Google and Overleaf is coming from.

Is there a limitation on the usage of Overleaf and similar services imposed by the Chinese government?

  • 3
    As far as I know, Overleaf has nothing to do with Google.
    – Thomas
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 19:40
  • 1
    @Thomassupportsmonica Yeah, it's a company that is completely independent from Google. I'm guessing her reticence comes from some sort of anxiety concerning Chinese censorship, which as Xuq01 points out is unfounded in this case.
    – Joel
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 19:50
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    Overleaf supports registering and logging in via a Google account. So probably a misunderstanding on her behalf. Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 20:10
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    @lighthousekeeper That might be it. Thanks, I'll bring it up.
    – Joel
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 20:13
  • Please clarify: Is the presumed issue about her using Overleaf while being a visiting scholar at your location or about her continuing to use Overleaf after she has returned to China? The title sounds like it's the latter, while the question body makes sound like the former. Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 21:32

3 Answers 3


No. I have no idea what is going on. The Chinese government blocks Google but does not forbid its citizens from using Google abroad, for example. There is no law forbidding the use of Google or Overleaf, and the government could not care less.

I'm not sure what they are up to or if there is a misunderstanding.

  • 1
    Ok thank you for the clarification. She might just not understand what Overleaf is, or think that I'm trying to get her to use Google. I'll press a little more to see if I can get her to use Overleaf. I didn't want to say anything more if it might cause her problems. The language barrier is pretty large. She knows enough to get around in the states, but verbal academic exchanges are proving challenging. At least she can write well enough for us to get ideas back and forth.
    – Joel
    Commented Feb 7, 2020 at 19:48

Many chinese universities use overleaf templates for their documents, as does mine. See for example ( I am not a student of fudan though): https://www.overleaf.com/latex/templates/fudan-recommendation-letter-template/rvptymhypfkz Judging by the extensive collections of chinese uni templates on the website (https://www.overleaf.com/latex/templates/recent/page/12?q=formal+letter&page=2 check here for a long list), I don't think overleaf is censored. I will update this post once I enter China in a few weeks. Update:

I am inside China now and can freely work on overleaf.


There is no limitation. I taught two courses this year to students in China and we required them to prepare documents in Overleaf, so they can use it — we required it for our course! I'm not sure what the connection is with Google, or if there is a connection at all.

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