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Hu Angang:Great expectations

日期:2019-03-28 浏览次数:237

China's intellectual property index, including trademarks, copyrights and patents, reflects its accumulation of technological innovation capital.

Hu Angang:Great expectations




文丨胡鞍钢

清华大学国情研究院院长、公共管理学院教授

丨 China Daily,2019.3.26


By Hu Angang | China Daily | Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The author is dean of the Institute for Contemporary China Studies and professor of School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University.




China's achievements in science and technology are based not on theft, as the United States claims, but on the hard work of all Chinese people, especially its vast number of scientists and technologists.

Although a late starter, China is now a big technology innovator.

According to data from the World Intellectual Property Organization, the number of Chinese invention patent applications in 2017 accounted for 43.6 percent of the world total, while the corresponding figure for the US was 19.2 percent. This means that the number of China's invention patent applications was 2.27 times that of the US.

When we look at the number of invention patents granted, we find that in 2017, China ranked first in the world, with 420,100 pieces. In 2018, the total number of effective invention patents of China reached 1.602 million. In reaching this total China surpassed Japan to rank second in the world. Meanwhile, in terms of industrial design applications, WIPO data show that in 2017 China accounted for 50.6 percent of the world total, while the US accounted for only 3.7 percent.

How can we explain the fact that it has taken China such a short time to catch up with and surpass the US in terms of patents for inventions and technological innovations? It is because in addition to establishing an intellectual property protection system and patent protection legal system similar to those in the US and Japan, the Chinese government has strongly encouraged and motivated domestic technology innovation.

First of all, China has formulated appropriate science and technology development strategies and targets. These medium-and long-term national strategies provide a clear development direction and information for enterprises, markets and foreign investors. From the 1995 strategy of rejuvenating the country through science and education and the 2006 national strategy of enhancing independent innovation capability, to the intellectual property strategy of 2007 and the innovation-driven development strategy of 2012, China has set its great mission to be among the top five in the world in terms of the annual authorization of domestic invention patents by 2020.

Second, China has highlighted technological innovation in its five-year plans. It has set a three-step long-term objective for achieving tech-innovation by 2020, thus greatly boosting the development pace of its technology and innovation developments. In the first step, in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), the proportion of research and experimental development expenditure in GDP was taken as one of the main indicators of economic and social development. In the second step, in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), the ownership of invention patents per 10,000 of the Chinese population was included as a main indicator. In the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), China has included the contribution rate of scientific and technological progress and the internet penetration rate as major indicators.

The third reason is China's various levels of local government have formulated and implemented relevant and appropriate policies for subsidizing, financing and rewarding patents at sub-national levels, as well as actively carrying out central government strategies. Moreover, local governments vigorously encourage industrial enterprise sectors to foster and cultivate their potential innovation capacity. Consequently, competitive technological innovation activities have been initiated throughout the country, which have greatly stimulated technological innovation.

Fourth, China's unique socialist market economy system provides basic institutional guarantees for encouraging and protecting technological innovation. The country's technological innovation system features enterprises as the main participants, the market as the main leader, and the government as the main supervisor. Over a period of more than 30 years, China has established a legal system of intellectual property rights with a complete range of categories in line with prevailing international rules, and has joined almost all the major international intellectual property conventions. China has become not only a veritable world intellectual property power, but also a firm defender, important participant, active builder and global leader in the intellectual property system.

Fifth, further opening up also plays a crucial role. China has taken steps to attract foreign direct investment and has encouraged foreign investors to apply for three major patents (invention, utility model and appearance design), with an emphasis on invention patents. This has attracted many world top 500 multinational enterprises to apply for and register patents to the Chinese government. The number of non-domestic invention patent applications in China rose from 26,600 in 2000 to 133,500 in 2016, clearly exceeding the numbers for Japan (58,100) and the European Union (33,100), according to the World Bank World Development Index database. Now China ranks No 2 in the world with an annual growth rate of 10.6 percent, which is much higher than the world average annual growth rate (3.8 percent). These invention patents from overseas enjoy equal protection and treatment with their Chinese domestic peers in China.

Sixth, enterprises have become the main source of technological innovation in China. In terms of R&D expenditure, enterprises accounted for 76.5 percent in 2017. And domestic enterprises are the main source of China's patent applications.

Over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has transformed from a small country in technological innovation to a giant one. Indeed, between 2000 and 2016, the total number of invention patent applications worldwide rose from 824,100 to 2,128,600, an increase of 1,304,500, while the number in China rose from 25,300 to 1,205,000, an increase of 1,179,700, or 90.43 percent of the total growth. In the same period, the number of US invention patents rose from 164,800 to 295,300, contributing only 10 percent of the total growth in the number of invention patent applications globally.

China is now the world's largest technological innovation country. Its technological development is not a challenge or a threat to other countries. Rather, it offers benefits and opportunities for the whole world.