For the first time, China owns 21 world-leading science and technology clusters, on a par with the United States, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization.
China and the U.S. are followed by Germany and Japan, which host 10 and five clusters, respectively, the WIPO said.
Four of the world's five biggest science and technology clusters are located in East Asia－one in Japan, two in China and one in South Korea. The fifth biggest one is in the U.S., said an early release from the 2022 edition of WIPO's Global Innovation Index.
Tokyo-Yokohama in Japan is the top-performing cluster, while Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou and Beijing took the second and third places, followed by Seoul at No 4 and San Jose-San Francisco at No 5.
Compared with the previous year, the steepest climbs in the 2022 cluster ranking came from three Chinese clusters－Zhengzhou in Henan province, up 15 positions from 2021 to No 83;Qingdao in Shandong province and Xiamen in Fujian province, which climbed 12 spots each to Nos 34 and 91, respectively.
"Local innovation clusters are critical to the vibrancy of national innovation ecosystems, so identifying them will help us understand where and how innovation is happening, and promote innovative activity as a powerful catalyst for jobs, investments, and growth," said Daren Tang, director-general of the WIPO.
Each year, the GII ranks the top-level innovative capacity of around 130 countries and economies around the world. Science and technology clusters are established through the analysis of patent-filing activity and scientific article publication, documenting the geographical areas around the world with the highest density of inventors and scientific authors, said the WIPO.
"China is playing an increasingly important role in bolstering advances in cutting-edge technologies and frontier fields, including the next generation of wireless technology, new energy vehicle manufacturing, ultrahigh voltage power transmission and the photovoltaic segment," said Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association.
Xiang said China is emerging as a major owner of global patents as an increasing number of Chinese enterprises are placing greater emphasis on patent applications and stepping up research and development.
WIPO said in the global rankings for innovation, China climbed to 12th place in 2021 from 34th in 2012, topping middle-income economies.
The number of international patent applications submitted by Chinese applicants through the Patent Cooperation Treaty stood at 69,540 in 2021, ranking first in the world for the third consecutive year. The PCT is a widely used indicator of innovative activity.