China's appliance and top TV maker TCL and Shenchao announced a joint venture that plans to invest a total 24.5 billion yuan ($3.6 billion) to set up an LCD production line using advanced 8.5-generation technology to tap future demand for flat-screen TVs.

TCL would invest 5 billion yuan and state-owned Shenchao would invest another 5 billion yuan in the 50-50 venture, with construction of the new LCD production line starting in early 2010, the company said in a statement.

Major companies in the sector have been flocking to China with blueprints of new LCD plants to take advantage of its market.

AU Optronics and Chi Mei, Taiwan's two biggest LCD makers, have said they expect to supply more panels needed by LCD TVs with Chinese brand names, tapping the potentially huge China market.

Research firm DisplaySearch said China could overtake North America as the world's biggest LCD TV consumer in 2011.

 (US$1= 6.82 yuan)

(Reporting by Qu Weizhi and Baker Li, Editing by Jacqueline Wong)