The BUAV's sister company Cruelty Free International has welcomed the decision by the Chinese Government to review its regulations for cosmetics testing, and is submitting proposals to enable companies to market cosmetics in China without testing on animals.

There is a global trend to ending the testing of cosmetics on animals, and such testing is illegal for marketing in the European Union since March this year. However, progress has been delayed by the Chinese requirement for all cosmetics to be submitted for animal testing in Government laboratories, forcing companies selling their products in China to duplicate their safety procedures, testing without the use of animals for Europe and then allowing China to re-test with animals. 

A number of leading companies such as The Body Shop have refused to sell cosmetics in China until it becomes possible to do so without animal testing.

Cruelty Free International has been discussing the issue with Chinese authorities since last year, when the organisation put forward alternatives to animal testing to participants at the first conference on the issue in Beijing. Further discussions were held this year by Cruelty Free international’s Director of Policy, Dr Nick Palmer, at the Beijing Institute for Food and Drug Quality Control, and he pressed the case in a presentation at a Chinese conference on cosmetics innovation in Shanghai. 

China’s position has been that the authorities have no objection in principle to accepting alternatives, but a period of training and validation was needed. The Chinese authorities have now invited input from industry and other interested parties in a review of cosmetics regulation this month, with new proposals expected by the end of the year. The statement does not make a commitment to alternatives and implies that tighter regulation of some “functional” cosmetics is foreseen, but Cruelty Free International sees it as an opportunity to press for positive change. 

BUAV and Cruelty Free International Chief Executive Michelle Thew said: “This is the first review of Chinese policy in the area for a quarter of a century and we are eager to seize the opportunity. We are optimistic that this may produce real progress for animals, but it is vital that animal organisations press the case.”