BEIJING, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- China's research and development has made notable progress in the past five years due to increases in spending, Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang said Tuesday.
National spending on research and development is estimated to reach about 1.76 trillion yuan (269.6 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017, up 70.9 percent from 2012, Wan said at a national conference.
The expenditure in research and development in 2017 accounted for 2.15 percent of GDP, catching up with the average 2.1 percent of 15 of the nations in the European Union, according to the minister.
About 136,000 technology firms contributed to more than half the research and development spending.
Citing the breakthroughs made in quantum communication and superconducting material, Wan noted that China's comprehensive strength in scientific research had improved significantly in the past five years.
The number of research articles written by Chinese scientists reached the world's second most, and the number of articles being referred to overtook Germany and Britain to be the world's second most in 2017.
"The number of patent applications the country received and that of those granted annually have been the largest across the world," Wan said.