Tesco is to build three shopping malls in China after forming a property joint venture with local partners.

The UK grocer will have a 50% stake in the enterprise, which will develop malls in Anshan, Fushan and Qinhuangdao, each of which will include a Tesco hypermarket as anchor tenant.

Two of the developments will be mixed use, including entertainment and residential properties as well as retail.

Tesco said the malls are part of its long-term strategy “to invest in building a substantial business in China.”

Tesco intends to have opened 18 new hypermarkets in China in the 12 months to February 2010. It already has 65 hypermarkets there and six small stores, which generated sales of £417m in the six months to August 29.

The retailer’s partners in the new property joint venture are HSBC Nan Fung China Real Estate Fund, Singapore’s Metro Holdings and Hong Kong’s Nan Fung Group.