According to the report the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) released January 2019, 3.17 million patent applications were filed worldwide in 2017, and 43.6% (1.38 million) of these patent applications were filed in China. Further, China was the second largest user of the PCT system in 2017 following the United States. It is, therefore, undisputable that China is one of biggest patent application filers in the world. The full WIPO report can be accessed through the below link:
Further, China was ranked 17th in the Global Innovation Index (GII) ranking published annually by Cornell University. The full WIPO article can be accessed through the below link:
Therefore, it seems fair to say that the Chinese government has been successful to make China move toward becoming an active patent filer as well as an active innovator. There are, however, some interesting facts behind these large numbers of patent filings from China.
First, about 90% of Chinese applications are filed by Chinese applicants, and Chinese patents expire at a high rate because of a failure to pay maintenance fees. It was reported that 37 percent of Chinese patents granted in 2013 were abandoned within five years because of a failure to pay maintenance fees, whereas only 14 percent of U.S. patents granted in 2013 were abandoned within five years because of failure to pay maintenance fees.
Second, U.S. patent applications filed by Chinese applicants generally have a low allowance rate. It was reported that an allowance rate of U.S. patent applications filed by Chinese applicants is considerably lower than an allowance rate of U.S. patent applications filed by U.S. applicants, Japanese applicants, or Korean applicants.
It is probably too early to make conclusions about the overall outcomes of Chinese patent filings given that China has a relatively young patent system with only a few decades of history. However, China appears to be quickly moving toward a strong patent system.