China was the country with the most number of patents published in artificial intelligence (AI), slightly edging the United States and Japan, according to the "China's AI Development Report 2018" released by China Institute for Science and Technology Policy at Tsinghua University. These three countries combined account for 74% of the world's total of AI patents published.

In 2017, the market value of China's AI Industry reached 23.7 billion yuan, up 67% year on year. There are 1,011 companies engaging in this line of business, second only to the U.S. number of 2,028.

IBM, Microsoft and Samsung are the front-running patent applicants globally while China State Grid, an up and coming startup in the past five years, immediately follows at No.4 Technology in the globe.

China's AI patent filings concentrate on data processing system and data information transmission. Research institutes/universities and companies split the list of most prolific AI patent owners almost down the middle, holding 52% and 48% of the top 30 posts respectively. China published the largest number of AI research papers as well as highly cited papers. China is home to 18,232 AI technology research talents, accounting for 8.9% of the world's total and second only to the U.S. (13.9%).

Unlike foreign peers' performance, Chinese companies are behind research institutes/universities in terms of patent filings. Even top IT giants Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are overwhelmed by their foreign peers such as IBM, Microsoft, Samsung and Google in AI patents and papers.

China's strength is in application while still underdeveloped in AI essential technologies, such as hardware and algorithms. The report advises that China shall strengthen basic research of AI, encourage collaboration between research institutes/universities and industry, empower companies to become the major force of innovation, participate in the construction of the AI global governance mechanism, etc.

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