During the golden age of science and technology development that China has enjoyed since the 1980s, many key technical problems in socio-economic development have been solved through a combination of sci-tech research, the introduction of foreign technologies and technological upgrading. Since 1981, Chinese research has produced 619,000 important scientific and technological outcomes, some 20 percent of which were at advanced world level. In 2005, registered sci-tech outcomes numbered 31,720, of which 2,839 related to basic theory, and 27,363 to applied technology.
The number of China's theses published in international periodicals ranks fifth in the world. In 2004, there were 93,352 theses from China embodied in the three world-renowned search systems, viz. Science Citation Index, Engineering Information and Index to Scientific and Technical Proceedings, accounting for 5.1 percent of the world total.
Reflecting growth in innovation, patent applications are increasing. There were, 2,280,000 applications filed in 2005, covering invention, utility model and external design. The State Intellectual Property Office received 476,000 applications, and granted over 214,000 in the year, 12.5 percent more than in 2004.
China was one of the few countries to start focusing on nano materials in the 1990s and nanotechnology-related patent applications have grown particularly fast. Today there are more than 4,000 such patents, accounting for 12 percent of the world total, and ranking third in the world.