Manchester China Forum appoints executive director

30th May 2013

Rhys Whalley has been appointed executive director for the newly created Manchester China Forum.

Whalley is to leave his current post as head of business development (Beijing) of the international property-firm Jones Lang LaSalle to lead the new Forum - a business-led initiative aimed at increasing Greater Manchester’s commercial connectivity with China.

He brings a wealth of experience, as a member of Jones Lang LaSalle Beijing Management Board and former business manager for the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

The board of the Manchester China Forum which includes Bruntwood, BT, Deloitte, MAG, The Peel Group and PTG Holroyd Precision selected Whalley because of his strong connections and experience of working with Chinese organisations, backed up by his expertise in navigating multinational companies through China’s often challenging business environment.

As an advanced-level speaker of Chinese, Rhys has worked in China for almost nine years and has a passion for enhancing economic and cultural ties between China and the North-West.

Based in Manchester, he will direct the Forum in its ambition to increase Chinese trade, inward investment, tourism and academic exchange on behalf of Greater Manchester.

He says: “As China becomes an increasingly dominant force in twenty-first century global trade, it is of paramount importance that Manchester sets in place a clear strategy that allows it to nurture long-term economic ties with the country.

“The establishment of the Forum and senior-level backing is a clear indication of the city’s determination to lead the way in forging closer links, something that I am very excited to be involved in.“

Lord Wei, non-executive director of Manchester China Forum, said: “"I'm delighted with Rhys Whalley’s appointment, which underlines Greater Manchester's commitment to take a dynamic and hands on approach to building relations with China and Chinese businesses and city leaders. He has tremendous experience, contacts and cultural understanding and will help us boost the region's readiness to grow East."

Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said: “The Manchester-China Forum is a historic venture that has set its sights on linking Manchester with the world’s fastest growing major economy. In order to create the long lasting connections necessary we require a leader with a wealth of expertise, and so we’re pleased to have Rhys appointed to the position. His involvement adds to our confidence in the project and he will help to cement Manchester’s future as a strong global business presence in the Far East.“

With support from CRCC Asia, a leading provider of Internships in China, the forum will be outlined in further detail at an exclusive business event to be held in the House of Lords on Wednesday 19 June.

The Manchester China Forum was officially launched by Chancellor George Osborne MP on 26 April. To find out more about Manchester China Forum, please go to:


Notes to editors:

For a photograph of Rhys Whalley, please click here:

The main objectives of the Manchester-China Forum are:

• Support the growth of Manchester’s exports to China by 2018;
• Increase inward investment into Manchester from Chinese companies;
• Grow inward tourism from Chinese visitors;
• Increase Chinese student numbers in Greater Manchester’s educational institutions;
• Increase student retention; and
• Secure direct air routes between Manchester and China.

The Forum is directed by a board chaired by Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG. (Manchester Airports Group) and has appointed Lord Nat Wei of Shoreditch as its non-executive director, alongside the Forum’s founding members who are:

Charlie Cornish (MAG)
Mike Blackburn (BT and Chair of Greater Manchester LEP)
Neil Jones (PTG Holroyd Precision)
Neil Lees (The Peel Group)
Jon Lovell (Deloitte)
Michael Oglesby (Bruntwood)
Baron Frankal (New Economy)
Tim Newns (MIDAS)
Andrew Stokes (Marketing Manchester)

For more information, contact Mark Coleman at Marketing Manchester on 0161 238 4586 or via email: or the Manchester Airport press office on 0161 489 2700 or via email at


Published on: 30/05/2013 09:39:41