Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies led the world in wireless communication patent filings in the year to October 2020, according to an industry report, maintaining the pace of its research and development despite the pandemic and the impact of US export restrictions. The Shenzhen-based company filed 8,607 wireless patents in the January to October period, ahead of US chip maker Qualcomm with 5,807 patents, according to a report released on Thursday by Beijing-based database provider incoPat, which ranked the top 100 companies. Chinese smartphone vendor Oppo was in third place with 5,353 patents. By country, China and the US each had a share of 32 per cent of patents filed, followed by Japan with 15 per cent and South Korea with 7 per cent. The list is based on public data for patents in the field of wireless communication networks, including next-generation 5G mobile network technology, said incoPat. “As a key area of modern communications, wireless communication network technology has always been a very important part in the 5G research and development process,” said the report. “With the new technological competition and new globalisation situation, wireless communication network technology is becoming an important strategic choice for enterprises to face international competition.” China says it now has more 5G base stations than rest of world combined Patents – particularly in emerging technologies such as 5G and AI – play an important role in determining which companies and countries will have an advantage in ‘tomorrow’s economy’. The US took the unusual step in June of announcing a rule change that ensured US tech firms could still work with Huawei in international 5G standards-setting, amid concerns that the US could be left out of the critical process due to Washington’s restrictions on doing business with the Chinese company. Besides patent filings, Huawei also leads in 5G-related contributions to 3GPP, an international umbrella organisation that develops telecom standards, beating out European rival Ericsson and US-based Qualcomm, according to a report from research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics earlier this year. 3GPP this year outlined Release 16, the next phase of 5G standards that cover a range of new applications, such as autonomous driving, smart factories, and remote surgery in the health care sector. The US, alarmed by Beijing’s economic advance and amid national security concerns, has in the past year escalated a tech war with China that threatens to decouple the two economies in many areas, opening up the prospect of dual standards for many new technologies. Meanwhile, China has continued its aggressive 5G push, with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) stating earlier this month that the country has built close to 700,000 5G base stations in 2020, exceeding its original target of half a million.