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A model of a passenger jet made by Commercial Aircraft Corp of China attracts visitors at a technology exhibition in the China Science and Technology City in Mianyang, Sichuan province.Pu Tao / For China Daily

Mianyang"s reputation as a leader in science and technology has grown in recent years, but the city"s involvement in the sector actually stretches back decades.

The city is home to many key research institutes and enterprises with national defense contracts, such as the China Academy of Engineering Physics, which developed the country"s first nuclear bomb.

Several have successfully adapted military technology for commercial markets.

Many of the city"s research institutes and enterprises were set up during the Third Front Movement, a major industrial program launched in 13 inland provinces and autonomous regions in 1964.

In the face of soured Sino-Soviet relations and threats from the United States, which had been staging military exercises in the Taiwan Straits, the movement involved large-scale investment in national defense, technology, manufacturing and transportation in China"s interior.

Thanks to the development during the Third Front Movement, Mianyang was ideally placed to lead the charge in the integration of civil and military industries when the country launched reform and opening-up in the late 1970s.

Sichuan Jiuzhou Electric Group, established in 1958, developed China"s secondary surveillance radar system, a tool for detecting and measuring the position of aircraft. Now it makes a variety of commercial products, such as broadband network devices and digital television equipment.

Shanghai-listed tech company Sichuan Changhong Electronic Co, also set up in Mingyang in 1958, is another example of the integration.

In 1982, top leader Deng Xiaoping called on the national defense industry to allow military enterprises to make products for civilian use. Soon after, Changhong, which made firing control radar for planes, started to research, develop and produce TV sets.

Today, Changhong is one of the country"s best-known home appliance makers, with a brand value of nearly 121 billion yuan ($17 billion), according to World Brand Lab, an independent consultancy based in New York.

Zhu Jiade, deputy secretary-general of the Sichuan government, said the company has contributed to Mianyang"s position as one of China"s major centers for electronics and the electronic information industry.