China catching up in EV-related technologies : evidence from patent quality analysis
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- Master Thesis 
Developing countries technologically catching up with leading countries within sectoral systems exhibit a set of common patterns, besides a series of case-specific behaviours. The attention that China has increasingly dedicated to the growth of the indigenous automotive sector and the development of technologies related to Electric Vehicles (EVs) shows the emergence of a specific set of common patterns identified in the catching up literature. In particular, a major role appears to be played by access to foreign knowledge and by active government policies, a manifestation of the Chinese national innovation system. In order to verify whether China is actually technologically catching up in EV-related technologies, this work carries out an empirical analysis on a commonly accepted proxy of knowledge stock: patents. Through an analysis of indicators of the quality of patents, the results show that Chinese inventors generally file low-quality inventions compared to developed countries in the sector, namely USA, Japan and Germany. However, an interesting finding is represented by the analysis of the trajectory followed by the chosen indicators over time. It emerges that China is increasing the quality of its knowledge stock in these technologies, especially with respect to core-technologies like batteries. Exploring this trend more in depth, the entities that emerge in this respect are mainly companies, not many of which seek international expansion. The depicted picture suggests that Chinese companies are currently more focused on developing solid competences regarding key technologies within national borders.