By Fiona Freddy

ABUJA- China is hastening its march towards an innovation-driven country, with a recent report placing it 17th out of 40 major countries on the innovation capability index.

The Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED) 2016-2017 national innovation index report shows that China tops the world in terms of filed applications for patents and issued ones, reaching 968,000 and 263,000, respectively.

A statement made available to Journalists said, “The Science and technology has contributed 56.2 per cent to China’s national development. China’s research and development spending in 2016 reached 1.544 trillion yuan ($236 billion) or 2.1 per cent of the country’s GDP, and companies contributed over 78 per cent of the total.

“The total value of technology-related contracts in the year reached 1.14 trillion yuan ($173 billion), exceeding the 1 trillion yuan threshold for the first time.”

China has made major advances in science and technology, according to Wang Zhigang, Vice Minister of Science and Technology, citing the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) and quantum science experimental satellite “Mozi” as examples.

FAST is the world’s largest single-dish telescope with a diameter of half a kilometer, while Mozi is world’s first quantum communication satellite.

Chinese scientists also found a new type of neutrino oscillation, and were awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, Wang said.

Zhigang added that the country has also seen progress in manned space, lunar exploration, large passenger jets, the manned submersible Jiaolong, super computers and other big projects.