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Rising Fortune 500 and patent rankings

The number of Chinese companies on the latest Fortune 500 list has risen to 95, keeping China in second place after the United States and maintaining its 10th consecutive year of rising rankings.

Domestic companies generated 5.2 trillion yuan ($851.8 billion) in combined revenue last year, about 17 percent of the total among Fortune 500 companies.

US magazine Fortune predicts the number of Chinese companies on the list will surpass 100 next year.

Amid challenging economic times, the growing number of Chinese companies on the list can be attributed to "persistent pursuit of technology innovation and intellectual property as the country accelerates the pace of transforming its development model", analysts said.

Sinopec, which topped the ranks of Chinese companies, is also a leader in patents with an inventory of nearly 27,000 applications by the end of 2012, more than 12,000 of them granted.

The large State-owned enterprise has core technologies over a broad spectrum ranging from oil and gas exploration and production to petrochemical development and emissions management.

Another regular on the list, Huawei Technologies improved its ranking from 351st in 2012 to 315th this year.

The Shenzhen-headquartered private telecommunications company filed nearly 42,000 patent applications in China by the end of 2012, more than 30,000 of which have been granted.

It has also filed more than 12,000 international applications through the Patent Cooperation Treaty. The strong tech prowess helps it rank among the world's largest telecommunication equipment makers.

China National Pharmaceutical Group Corp, known as Sinopharm, is a newcomer on the Fortune list.

While the majority of domestic medicine makers focus on generics, Sinopharm makes proprietary research a priority in its development strategy. Its R&D includes small-molecule therapy drugs that help to treat cancers, anti-drug-resistant products and cardiovascular medicines.

Industry data shows that Fortune 500 companies contribute 90 percent of the world's production technologies and lead the tech trend especially in electronics, telecommunications, computers, medical therapy and medicine.

Since a national IP strategy was implemented nationwide in 2008, Chinese companies have placed growing importance on innovation. The momentum has helped them turn from followers to challengers in their respective domains, industry watchers said.

While local media applauded Chinese expansion on the Fortune list, experts noted the difference from true multinationals.

They said that Chinese companies are large but not strong enough. Compared with their overseas peers, they still lag behind in resource integration, innovation capacity, brand influence, training and internationalization, they said.

Currently just a few large domestic companies invest more than 3 percent of their revenues on research, while the R&D expenditures by companies in developed countries generally range from 5 to 10 percent, Li Jin, chief researcher at the Chinese Enterprise Research Institute, told the China IP newspaper.

For many Fortune 500 companies, the rate exceeds 10 percent, Li added.

"Either Sinopec or Industrial and Commercial Bank of China - they do rank among the most lucrative businesses in the world, yet 80 percent of their revenues are sourced from the domestic market rather than from around the globe, so they can hardly be counted as real world-class companies," he said.

Any domestic firms trying to join the ranks of top international companies will need to build globally influential brands and grow from participants into leaders in their industries and the makers of rules and standards, he said.

Zhang Yongfan, a teacher at the IP Academy of Renming University, told China IP that the companies on the list are leaders in technological progress and industrial modernization. They are also examples of the national IP strategy.

Zhang called for increased investment in fundamental research that aids long-term IP development and improves strength in core technologies.

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