The move will see the removal of mandatory animal test requirements for domestically produced cosmetics products from June 2014.
This means that for the first time, Chinese cosmetic and personal care manufacturers producing ‘non-special use cosmetics’, which include every day products such as shampoo and perfume, will now have the option to use existing safety data for raw ingredients or European Union-validated non-animal tests.
Good news for lab animals
Until now, ingredients and finished products have had to be submitted to the China government for testing on a wide range of animals, including rabbits, mice and rates, with the Humane Society International (HSI) estimating that 300,000 such animals are used in the country every year.
“This news from China marks a major milestone in our campaign and could constitute a significant watershed moment in our global effort to end cosmetics animal testing worldwide,” said Troy Seidle, HSI director.
However, for HSI and other animal rights campaigners that have been putting pressure on the China government to make these changes, the announcement is considered a partial victory, mainly because the new regulations are not compulsory and also that they do not include international companies wanting to market cosmetic and personal care products in China.
HSI has a dedicated team of campaigners in China
Undoubtedly, one of the most significant voices in the fight to end cosmetic animal testing in China has been HSI, which has been running its Cruelty-Free China campaign for the past five months, through a team of dedicated staff based in Beijing.
The initial results of the campaign led to the first ever review of animal testing on cosmetics in China for 20 years, following the submission of a detailed technical proposal outlining how the government could introduce a successful safety programme that did not use animals.
“This development is only the beginning of what we hope to be a paradigm shift towards 21st-century science without animals,” said Siedle.
“We will meet with Beijing officials in the coming days to look closely at the detail of this cosmetics announcement, but it looks like there could at last be a bright future for cruelty-free companies in China and hope on the horizon for an end to cosmetics cruelty.”