The European Patent Office (EPO) on Tuesday published its 2016 Annual Report revealing China showed the highest growth in patent applications.

According to the report, the number of patent applications from China increased 24.8 percent in 2016. China's applications for the first time exceeded that of South Korea and ranked sixth out of the top 10 countries of origin.

The top 10 countries were United States, Germany, Japan, France, Switzerland, China, the Netherlands, South Korea, Britain and Italy.

EPO President Benoit Battistelli said in an interview with Xinhua that Europe is an attractive technical market and that China is now one of the EPO's most important applicants.

He said that he believed that China would continue to increase the number of patent applications at EPO in the coming years.

"China wants to internationalize its economy and let its big companies not only concentrate on fulfilling domestic needs, but also be present in the world market," Battistelli said.

In 2016, patent applications from China totaled 7,150, among which 51 percent of the applications were from the fields of digital communications, computer and telecommunications technologies.

Huawei was the highest ranking patent applicant for the third time, followed by Microsoft, Samsung, while ZTE, also a Chinese multinational telecom equipment company, ranked fifth.

In 2016, China registered strong growth in sectors of engines, turbines, transport and biotechnology.

"There is a good cooperation with Europe and China in terms of patents," said Battistelli, "and the system in China is very similar to the European one."

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