Since the 18th Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries in 1996 affirmed the jurisdiction of civil and commercial matters and the recognition and execution of convictions as topics of utmost priority, the Hague Conference on Private International Law had held 5 sessions of the Special Commission to draft the convention. Originally the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries was to take place in October 2000 to adopt the convention, but as the various sides differed rather widely on the major articles, it was difficult to work out a compromise text. Furthermore, China, the US, Japan, ROK and Australia, resentful of the European countries' domination of the process of the negotiation on the strength of their numbers and the use of voting to decide controversial texts, moved respectively in March 2000 to postpone the Conference. Therefore, the Hague Conference on Private International Law held a session of the Special Commission on General Affairs and Policy in May 2000, agreeing to postpone the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries, to continue with the consultations on the controversial text of the convention, striving to make the draft resolution of the convention reflect the concerns of the various sides and reached an agreement on the work arrangement: the Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries would be held in two stages. The 1st conference would be held in June 2001 to seek compromise on the controversial issues of the convention but to make no binding decisions without consensus or close to consensus; the 2nd conference would be held in December 2001 or the beginning of 2002 to complete the formulation of the convention by following the traditional way of voting. Prior to the Conference, a series of informal consultative meetings would be held.
The Chinese Delegation participated in the most recent round of consultations in Washington from October 30 to November 1, 2000. General discussions were held based on the second reading text shaped by the 5th session of the Special Commission to affirm on what issues common understanding had been reached; it was decided to further discuss in later consultations the issues on which no common understanding had been reached. In view of the discussions, the various countries have achieved a rather unanimous understanding on the nature of the convention, general jurisdiction, the selection of courts, implied jurisdiction, jurisdiction of the branch offices, jurisdiction of trust cases and other basis of jurisdiction, basic conditions of the recognition and execution of convictions; but on the major issues such as the jurisdiction of contracts and cases of pirating, protective jurisdiction, exclusive jurisdiction and prohibition of jurisdiction, there still exists rather wide difference between the state parties, particularly between the European countries and the US. The task of achieving unanimity before the conference is still formidable.
Besides, the issue of electronic commerce was also put on the agenda. In February 2000, the 1st meeting of the working group was held in Ottawa especially on this topic. A Chinese delegation attended it.