APT1: Exposing one of China’s cyber espionage units

APT1, PLA Unit 61398 based in Shanghai Since 2004, Mandiant has investigated computer security breaches at hundreds of organizations around the world. The majority of these security breaches are attributed to advanced threat actors referred to as the “Advanced Persistent Threat” (APT). We first published details about the APT in our January 2010 M-Trends report. As we stated in the report, our position was that “The Chinese government may authorize this activity, but there’s no way to determine the extent of its involvement.” Now, three years later, we have the evidence required to change our assessment. The details we have analyzed during hundreds of investigations convince us that the groups conducting these activities are based primarily in China and that the Chinese Government is aware of them.

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TPP Countries: Comparative Trade and Economic Analysis, U.S. Congressional Research Service

   U.S. Imports from TPP Countries, ex- Canada and Mexico

U.S. Imports from TPP Countries, excluding Canada, MexicoVietnam was already the third largest supplier in 2011, overtook Singapore in 2012, and could soon overtake Malaysia to be the leading supplier.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) currently under negotiation between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The negotiating partners have expressed an interest in allowing this proposed “living agreement” to cover new trade topics and to include new members that are willing to adopt the proposed agreement’s high standards. Canada and Mexico are the most recent countries to join the negotiations and Japan has participated in consultations with the partner countries about the possibility of joining. Read more

Forging ahead: Party Secretary’s Address to the Nation, TET 2013

Party Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong Address to the Nation, TET 2013Feb 18, 2013. Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong reflects on the past year and shares his expectations for the next in an exclusive interview with the Vietnam News Agency (Summary)

The year 2012 has passed with many difficulties and challenges. How would you assess the achievements made by our Party and people in the past year?

The year 2012 is the second year of implementation of the Resolution of the XIth National Party Congress. Thanks to the enormous effort of the Party, army and people, our country is slowly but surely overcoming many difficulties and challenges. We have maintained political stability, security, law and order as well as national sovereignty. The macro-economy is steady with inflation under control and at a single digit (6.81% compared to the 18.13% in 2011). GDP growth is over 5%. Our export turnover reached nearly US$115 billion. The country is now the top rice exporter in the world with 8 million tonnes. Foreign exchange reserve is also at its highest level and international confidence in the Vietnamese dong is strong. We have a stable social safety net and per capita income has reached $1,500 per annum. Despite economic difficulties facing the region, Viet Nam has attracted over $13 billion of FDI and another $6.5 billion of ODA. This shows the confidence and support of investors and partners in Viet Nam’s course of development. Tourism is another bright spot , with 6.8 million foreign visitors and 32.5 million domestic tourists, contributing VND160 trillion last year.

But, it cannot be denied that 2012 had its fair share of difficulties. The global financial crisis and economic slowdown have negatively affected our country’s development. The economy has shown weaknesses and limitations. Interest rates are high, bad debt and inventories are big and the property market is frozen. Businesses face difficulties and many have dissolved or stopped their operations. The standard of life of some, especially the poor and low-income workers, has dropped, while the rich-poor divide has widened. Crime and social vices, pollution, food hygiene violations and traffic accidents continue to rise at an alarming level. The East Sea problem is complicated. All this means there is still a lot of work to be done this year and in the long-term.

The phrases ‘restructuring’ and ‘growth model reform’ have featured lately in many documents and resolutions of the Party Central Committee as well as in your speeches. Are they the new ideas of the Party in its development policy in a time of accelerating modernisation and industrialisation? Could you please elaborate more on these?

A new idea that runs through the resolution of the XI National Party Congress is to make the country’s growth rapid and sustainable through restructuring the economy together with growth model reform, shifting from horizontal growth to vertical growth and so increasing the economy’s productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness. Socio-economic development must also respect environmental protection and improvement and facilitate an active response to climate change and natural disasters.

After six plenaries of the Party Central Committee, our Party has made a series of resolutions, advocating policies that emphasize quality growth and sustainable development, through changes in infrastructure; social policies; reform of education and training; restructuring of state-owned enterprises; development of science and technology; enhanced land management; guarantees of food and energy security and the protection of our environment.

In the short-term we need to prioritise restructuring of three special areas: public investment, commercial banks and state-owned enterprises.

You are one of the advocators behind last year’s Resolution of the 4th Plenary of the Party Central Committee regarding party building. Could you say a few words on the progress of the Resolution and how it can be carried out further in an effective and resolute manner?

This is not the first time our Party made such a resolution. The title of the resolution itself, ‘A number of urgent matters on Party building today’ has already spelt out its urgency.

Party building and the many weaknesses and limitations of our cadres and Party members, especially the degradation in terms of ideology, ethics and lifestyle, call for our urgent action. By accepting facts, no matter how troubling, the Resolution has addressed the measures required to make our Party strong and clean in terms of planning, organisation and personnel.

The public is still of two minds about Party criticism and self-criticism, and whether the problem really is widespread and more needs to be done to discipline the guilty. What is clear is that people have high hopes and expectations, and rightly so. It should be understood that the Resolution has set an immediate goal of heightening vigilance and making it clear that if anyone does not admit their mistake and correct it, they will be disciplined.

Building and correcting the faults in the Party is difficult and complex. We cannot avoid it as it is crucial to the life of our Party and the survival of our administration. What will prove increasingly decisive is that all of us must work together to correct the problems with a calm and sound approach. A good individual adds to a good organisation and a good organisation makes up a strong Party. A strong Party contributes to the everlasting life of the nation.

As we welcome the Year of the Snake 2013, do you have any message to share with your compatriots, soldiers in the country and overseas Vietnamese?

In 2013, alongside the advantages and achievements we are working towards, that the situation in the world and in our country will continue to be difficult. I hope that the entire Party, army and people will remain firm in their faith so that together we can forge a strong consensus to resolutely bring our country into the light and make strong steps forward. Let each family and each individual have a new year filled with joy, happiness and success. — VNS

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Stirring up the South China Sea (II): Regional Responses

July 24, 2012. The long-simmering dispute is doomed to escalate if the countries contesting its waters fail to take steps to reduce tensions. ASEAN has proven ineffective in reducing tensions, since divisions between member states have prevented ASEAN from reaching a consensus. China has worked actively to exploit these divisions. As a result, no code of conduct on the management of disputes has been agreed. In the absence of regional agreement on policy options or an effective mechanism to mitigate and de-escalate incidents, this strategically important maritime domain will remain unstable.  Read more

Stirring up the South China Sea (I): China

Apr 23, 2012 China is one of its own worst enemies in the South China Sea, as its local governments and agencies struggle for power and money, inflaming tensions with its neighbours. Ultimately, the ability to manage relations in the South China Sea and resolve disputes will present a major test of China’s peaceful rise.

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A Maritime Balkans of the 21st Century? by Kevin Rudd, Australian PM 2007-2010

Kevin Rudd, Australian PM, 2007-2010Territorial claims in the “South China Sea” are … complex.

According to U.S. agencies, Chinese officials have claimed that the sea contains proven oil reserves as high as 213 billion barrels (10 times U.S. reserves, though American scientists are more skeptical) and 25 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves (roughly the total proven reserves of Qatar).

The South China Sea also accounts for some 10 percent of the world’s annual fisheries catch. The region is already the scene of deeply disputed exploratory activities for deep-sea energy resources. Fisheries are also already the subject of multiple physical confrontations between vessels. Furthermore, unlike the Senkaku/Diaoyu, many islands in the South China Sea are already occupied, garrisoned, and home to naval bases. Read more

Comprehensive Tax Reform: U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee

Dave Camp, R-MI, Chairman House Ways & Means Committee

Rep. Dave Camp, Chairman, House Ways & Means Committee

Independent economists estimate that, when coupled with reduced federal spending, comprehensive tax reform could lead to the creation of 1 million jobs in the first year alone.On January 24 Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a financial products discussion draft as part of the Committee’s broader effort on comprehensive tax reform.  The proposal outlines changes to tax rules designed to provide greater simplicity and uniformity.  Simultaneously, the proposal also seeks to modernize tax rules to minimize Wall Street’s ability to hide and disguise potentially significant risks through the abuse of derivatives and other novel financial products – an activity that was a contributing factor to the 2008 financial crisis.The discussion draft consolidates several reforms that have been identified as necessary to provide more uniform tax treatment of financial products.

Overview 
Summary 
Press Release
Draft Proposal 
Technical Explanation

The Ways and Means Committee held 20 separate hearings on comprehensive tax reform in the 112th Congress and released an international tax reform discussion draft in October 2011.

The discussion draft reflects what has become a trademark of Camp’s approach to tax reform – an open and transparent process in which stakeholders are encouraged to review and comment on specific legislation prior to formal legislative action.
Learn more about the Committee’s work on comprehensive tax reform below.

Camp Comments on Comprehensive Tax Reform

In the News: Camp on Comprehensive Tax Reform

Laying the Foundation:  The Ways and Means Committee’s Record on Comprehensive Tax Reform
Since Republicans took back the majority in the House for the 112th Congress, the Committee on Ways and Means has embarked upon an active agenda in pursuit of comprehensive tax reform.  Over the past two years, the Committee has:

  • Conducted 20 separate hearings on comprehensive tax reform.
  • Established that comprehensive tax reform should include top corporate and individual tax rates of 25 percent.
  • Secured inclusion of comprehensive tax reform with a top rate of 25 percent in the House Republican Budget Resolution for FY 2012 and FY 2013.
  • Released a draft proposal for moving from a “worldwide” system of taxation to a “territorial” system of taxation.  Learn more below.

Making America A More Attractive Place To Hire and Invest :  International Tax Reform

Attachments to Letter to MOLISA re Draft Decree on Foreign Workers, Work Permits, and “no less than 60 days comment period,” Jan 24, 2013

Attachment A. Excerpts from the Bilateral Trade Agreement between Vietnam and the United States, July 13, 2000

Attachment B. Excerpts from the Report of the Working Party on the Accession of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to the World Trade Organization, WT/ACC/VNM/48, 27 October 2006

Attachment C. Some Comments regarding the Draft Decree on Foreign Workers, Work Permits, etc. submitted for discussion at the dialogue meeting with MOLISA, MPI, organized by the Vietnam Business Forum on Jan 11, 2013

Attachment D & E. National Assembly Resolution No. 71, Nov 29, 2006, Ratifying Vietnam’s Accession to the WTO Agreement

APEC Business Travel Card, FATCA, Tax Reform (Territorial Approach): APCAC Advocacy Update, Jan 26, 2013

Tom Clark, APCAC Vice Chairman

Tom Clark, APCAC Vice Chairman

• APEC Business Travel Card available by May 2013
• Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act implementation date extended to Jan 1, 2014
• Forging APCAC’s 2013 Advocacy Agenda
• Tax Reform Debate: Ways & Means Committee – “Territorial Tax Regime”

APCAC’s advocacy efforts, along with that of our member Chambers and the on-going support of our Washington-based advisors BGR, has been effective in moving the Administration on several areas that we focused on in our 2012 “Washington Doorknock” and ensuing follow-up through the year. Collectively, these efforts show the importance of developing a credible, realistic advocacy agenda, tied to the goals of expanding U.S. business access to the growing Asian market, and then executing on that agenda not just in a once-a-year Washington Doorknock, but on an on-going basis throughout the year.

APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) : As noted in APCAC Chair Steve Okun’s separate letter, our on-going advocacy on ABTC, following up continuously from the Washington Doorknock in June 2012, has produced firm commitments from the Customs and Border Protection office (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security to implement the ABTC legislation over the next several months. In a direct response to our APCAC letter to Senator Cantwell, members of her staff, along with staff from the offices of Senators Hirona and Shatz of Hawaii, and Congressman Larsen, met with officials of CBP and were assured that CBP is planning a full implementation of the ABTC legislation by May of this year. It will be based on the existing Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program with an additional fee of no more than $100. CBP also pledged a 1 week turnaround from the time CBP confirms receipt of an application and the issuance of the new card. This will require ABTC applicants to also become members of the Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program, and we now have a firm commitment for an implementation timeline that will allow U.S. business people access to the benefits of this APEC initiative already enjoyed by their competitors from other economies.

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA): Last week, the US Treasury released its final rules on implementation of FATCA. While there is no denying the continuing complexity of the rules and the burden that will be placed on US financial institutions and as well as difficulty for overseas American citizens in obtaining financial services, the final regulations have taken some material steps to respond to the inputs made by these stakeholders, including by APCAC in our 2012 Doorknock and on-going advocacy. The final rules extend the implementation deadline by a year until January 1, 2014, reduce some of the documentation requirements for covered institutions (allowing, for example, tax withholding certificates instead of full financial statements, letters of counsel, etc., to verify certain representations), and allow institutions in “Model 1” jurisdictions to comply by providing information to their host country tax authorities and be exempt from many requirements of the final rules. Some more detailed overviews of final rules and comments are available at the links provided below. Obviously, chambers and their member companies or individuals should consult their legal and tax advisors as to particulars.

http://www.deloitte.com/assets/Dcom-UnitedStates/Local%20Assets/Documents/Tax/us_tax_FATCA_Final_Regs_012313.pdf
http://www.kpmg.com/US/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/taxnewsflash/Documents/1339finalfatca.pdf
http://www.sidley.com/IRS-Releases-Final-FATCA-Regulations-01-18-2013/
http://blogs.wsj.com/corruption-currents/2013/01/22/experts-laud-extra-time-to-implement-fatca-compliance/

Forging our 2013 Advocacy Agenda: The upcoming APCAC Annual Meeting and APCAC 2013 Business Summit in Taipei is shaping up to be a great event under the leadership of AmCham Taipei. This event will continue the practice of organizing panel discussions and keynote addresses attracting experts from around the region and the U.S. on key topics such as: innovation, energy and environment, healthcare, financial services and regional trade architecture. As in past years, these discussions will be an important input into our new APCAC Report and associated advocacy documents to be used in connection with our upcoming Washington Doorknock, June 9-12, and in advocacy directly with our host governments throughout the region. Please be prepared to receive and comment on, in the next 2-3 weeks, preliminary drafts of a new APCAC Report. This will be a great opportunity for your input into this 2013 APCAC Report to ensure that issues of importance to your AmCham are properly included or brought up to date. These issues will include new challenges to growth and market access in the region, both from governments in the region (emerging restrictions on cross-border data flows and capital flows, continuing level playing field challenges) as well as U.S. actions that may have unintended consequences for growth and markets in the region (for example, the various extraterritorial applications of Dodd-Frank).

Tax Reform Debate: Significantly, we will also follow closely the ongoing tax reform debate in Washington DC, particularly where it may affect the interests of overseas Americans and U.S. corporations operating overseas. APCAC’s long-standing advocacy on maintaining meaningful protections for overseas Americans against double taxation and securing the foreign earned income exclusion (FEIE) will continue, as will upgraded efforts to move to a territorial tax regime such as that maintained by most of our trading competitors. This debate is already under way, as demonstrated by the documents (see links below) from the House Ways and Means Committee and Congressman David Camp’s office of proposals on reforms of taxation of financial products. The framework also includes reform of taxation of individuals and businesses that are to be determined. You will recall that Congressman Camp was a recipient of one of our APCAC Awards in 2012. We will remain in close contact with his office and those of other members of Congress to ensure that APCAC’s voice is heard in the development of these proposals.

Best regards,

Tom Clark
Vice Chair for Washington, APEC and TPP
Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC)

Comprehensive Tax Reform – from Ways & Means Committee Web Site

 

If you can’t get into a top-five MBA program, don’t even bother

Jan 22, 2013. Last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article questioning the value of an MBA but I could have already told you that. As a graduate of the 2002 Wharton MBA program and a member of the Wharton Admissions Committee as a student, I get a lot of aspiring MBA candidates asking me the following question: “What do I need to do on my application to get into an MBA program?” 

However,  before candidates can even ask me that question, I ask them:  “Why do you want an MBA and what schools are you applying to?” 

MBA programs were created in the 1950s because large corporations felt that new employees lacked general management skills and as a result, many talented hires had to be taught on the job the basics of business such as accounting, finance, market research, etc.

Corporations started to demand that schools give them better trained employees. In response, many schools designed MBA programs as a two-year crash course for talented individuals to get a fundamental overview of how big business worked. MBAs were not designed to help you advance your career, they were designed to make you a great employee at a large firm.  In fact, most large firms paid for your MBA and you, in return, committed to joining them for several years.

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