China’s commitment to leading the AI frontier is evident, with a significant uptick in patent filings that dwarf those of the U.S.
China’s AI ascent
In a move that underscores China’s technological ambitions, Bloomberg reports the nation has recorded a surge in AI-related patent filings. The World Intellectual Property Organization shows Chinese institutions filed 29,853 AI patents in 2022, a modest rise from 2021’s 29,000. In stark contrast, the U.S. saw a 5.5% decline in its filings. This divergence means China now accounts for over 40% of global AI patent applications, with Japan and South Korea trailing behind with a combined 16,700 applications in 2022.
Beijing’s strategic push
China’s surge in AI patent filings isn’t merely about numbers. It’s a reflection of Beijing’s broader strategy to ensure its institutions and companies lead in pivotal sectors. From chip manufacturing to space exploration, China is making its mark. The recent emphasis by President Xi Jinping on accelerating foundational research is a direct response to US efforts to limit China’s access to advanced technologies. This has spurred significant Chinese investments in AI and quantum computing.
Companies like Baidu are now racing against other tech giants, including Alibaba and Tencent, to develop AI solutions that can rival those of U.S. competitors like OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
The bigger picture
While patents are a measure of intent and innovation, they’re also strategic tools. For China, building a robust patent portfolio is seen as a way to counter Washington’s tech restrictions. While not every patent leads to a groundbreaking invention, companies like Huawei have showcased that innovation can indeed follow intent.
China’s dominance in AI patent filings began as early as 2017, a time when the nation also saw a boom in AI applications across various industries.
China’s rise in the realm of AI is both strategic and indicative of its broader technological ambitions. As China continues to invest and innovate, the global tech landscape could witness a shift in leadership and influence.