General Motors has discussed selling shares of various joint ventures in China with partner SAIC Motor as part of efforts to raise cash.

GM approached SAIC recently offering to sell some of its stake in their 50-50 joint venture that builds and sells Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet models in China, unidentified sources told Reuters.

GM would become a minority partner at the flagship Shanghai General Motors JV, established about 10 years ago, and considered to be one of the best of GM’s global operations. It has been very successful with the Buick brand, in particular.

But there may be other clouds on GM’s Chinese horizon. The report said GM and its joint ventures in China – there are seven others including a GMAC-style finance unit and a local version of the OnStar telematics service – posted 6% sales growth in 2008, down from just under 19% in 2007 but much better that the 23% fall is US sales in 2008. But some analysts have suggested that the automaker’s uncertain financial prospects have started to affects its sales in China.

GM and SAIC declined to comment on the report that said GM, in early talks, signalled willingness to consider selling other assets in China to SAIC.

Ahead of a 17 February deadline to submit a viability plan to the US Congress under terms of its federal bailout loan, GM has also been in discussions with various stakeholders including unions and financiers. It has a a goal of raising up to $4bn through asset sales, but progress has been hit by the credit crunch.

Also on the block are Hummer, Saab and a medium-duty truck business based in Flint, Michigan.

A deal to sell some of GM’s assets in China could upstage those deals in its size and significance, Reuters noted, adding that a second person familiar with the talks had said a move to sell assets in China could also help deflect criticism that it was using US taxpayer funds to subsidise business overseas.