Just read the latest SIPO (State Intellectual Property Office of China) financial report, it is an interesting read.
Last year, SIPO received RMB 3414 million from public funding and RMB 1456 million received as operating income. The operating income includes patent application and examination fees, as well as training, publication and other data services. The expenses that was directly related to Intellectual Property services was RMB 3340 million.
I was trying to check this with the number of patent applications being processed by SIPO, I was not able to obtain the 2012 figure. The 2011 figure shows that SIPO process 526,412 new Patent of Invention application in one year. If we also add Utility Model and Design Patent, the number of new applications processed in 2011 was 1,633,347.
The fees collected for Patent of Invention, Utility Model and Design Patent are different, but just to average out, the average cost to manage and process one patent application is reasonably low.
For example, for a Patent of Invention, the official fee for examination is just RMB2,500 (about USD407), this is a small number when we compare it to EPO's search and examination fee!
The SIPO's financial report was posted here (in Chinese). The latest SIPO statistics was posted here.