China broke into the world’s top 20 most-innovative economies this year, ranking 17th in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2018 and being the only middle-income economy in the top 25. China’s rise in the GII rankings is extraordinary: only in 2018 China gains five positions from 2017.
China is also moving closer to the top 10 in indicators related to the quality of its institutions, the development of its market and its business sector. These important achievements are reinforced by a strong performance in innovation outputs, where China breaks in the top 10 this year for the first time.
In absolute values, China is among the largest world contributors in terms of many innovation inputs and outputs, including R&D spending, number of researchers, scientific and technological publications, and patent applications. In the GII rankings, China earns top positions in a number of important areas, including patents and utility models, high-tech exports, but also trademarks, industrial designs, and creative goods exports. Other areas of comparative strength include capital investment, firms offering formal training, and high-tech imports (for a complete list, see pages 3 and 4 of this brief).
China is second in the world (after the United States of America) in number of innovative clusters, with 18 clusters identified this year. Shenzhen–Hong Kong and Beijing are in the top 5 world clusters in terms of international patent filings. The country also remains the top middleincome economy for the sixth consecutive year in the GII indicators that capture the quality of innovation. It is the only country closing the gap with the high-income group. In the quality of scientific publications and the quality of its universities, China performs above the high-income group average, and, in the latter indicator, above the score of top-ranked Japan. This reflects the high-quality scores achieved by Tsinghua, Peking, and Fudan Universities this year.