SIPO Director Tian Lipu said it took nearly 15 years for China to reach its first one million patent applications, following the introduction of the Patent Law in the mid-1980s. It then took about four years to reach the next one million, but it only took two more years to reach the three million mark.
[IPBiz: for comparison, the USPTO reported about 409,000 US patent applications for FY 2005. The number is a bit "up in the air," as an earlier report had stated about 406,000 patent applications. For example, look here.]