China purchased a record amount of technology in 2006, with Europe accounting for almost 40 percent of total imports, China’s Ministry of Commerce said Thursday.

The U.S. trailed both Europe and Japan as an exporter of technology to China. China’s imports totalled US$22.02 billion, up 15.6 percent over 2005 spending. Of that number, $14.76 billion was spent on technology licensing and other fees, or 67 percent of total spend, the ministry said.

Nations in the European Union were the leading technology exporters to China, with total trade valued at $8.66 billion. Japan placed second with 23.8 percent of technology orders with a value of US$5.24 billion. The U.S. was China’s third-largest technology exporter, with $4.23 billion worth of goods and services and 19.2 percent of total imports, the ministry said.

More than half of the technology imported went to foreign-invested enterprise, $11.3 billion worth. China’s state-owned enterprises accounted for $8.99 billion and 40.8 percent of total technology imported.

The Ministry of Commerce said that the technology included electronic and telecommunication equipment, and railway transportation and transport equipment.