China is the only country to see the number of U.S. patents increase in 2018 according to Bloomberg, which reports that Chinese inventors are on pace to overtake Germany in the No. 4 position of top recipients.
U.S. companies received 46 percent of the all patents issued in the U.S. last year, followed by companies based in Japan, S. Korea and Germany, but overall, the number of patents issued by the patent office declined 3.5 percent for the year.
Chinese companies received 12,589 new U.S. patents in 2018, a 12 percent jump on the previous year. The rapid development reflects the steady transformation of China's technology development model in recent years.
Companies like Huawei strengthened their research and development program and are seeking to expand into the global market. Huawei obtained 1,680 patents last year, and ranked 16th in terms of the number of U.S. patents obtained last year. Chinese display-screen maker BOE Technology ranks only one place behind Huawei. The company received approval of 1,634 patent applications last year, surpassing General Electric for the first time.
China's spending on research and development in science and technology surged ten-fold since 2000, while the U.S. spending grew a modest 39 percent in the same period.
China now spends 2.1 percent of its gross domestic product on research and development, not yet matching U.S. levels of 2.75 percent, but a remarkable increase from just 0.7 percent in the 1990s and nearing the 2.35 percent average of members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
China overtook Japan as the No. 2 patent filer in the world in 2017, with 13.4 percent annual growth, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
The U.S. accusation of China of engaging in intellectual property theft, which China denies, became a central reason for the trade war between the two countries.