Using firm-level data from Changzhou, a prefectural city in China's Yangzi River Delta, we investigate the performance of both internal and external research and development (R&D) in high-tech firms. We find that, on average, high-tech firms with more internal R&D expenditure apply for more patents in terms of both the total number of patents and the number of invention patents. Internal R&D is most efficient in foreign firms, followed by private firms and then state-owned enterprises. These findings highlight the importance of privatizing high-tech firms in China if the government intends to accelerate industrial upgrading and convert the pattern of “Made in China” into “Created in China.”

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