China is now one step closer to ending their mandatory animal testing policy for cosmetics. At the beginning of the month, Global Cosmetic News reported that “Cruelty Free International is celebrating an important step towards a global ban for animal testing as China’s Gansu Province National Medical Products Association has announced that post-market testing for finished imported and domestically produced cosmetics in China will not include animal tests.”

This brought hope that it might be the end of animal testing in China, and I’ve received many questions about this news. Is post-market animal testing now banned in China? Does this mean the end of animal testing for cosmetics?

Unfortunately, although it signifies a big improvement, post-market animal testing is not yet over in China. Based on what was reported by Cruelty Free International, “post-market animal testing is now not normal practice”:

“This assurance by the Chinese authorities that post-market animal testing is now not normal practice is an enormous step in the right direction and most welcome. At this stage, this does not automatically mean that brands can import to China overnight and be cruelty free, but we are delighted that through co-operation and partnership our aim to end cosmetics animal testing everywhere and forever is coming closer. We hope that this will pave the way to actual legislative change that will benefit cruelty free companies and the Chinese consumer as well as many thousands of animals.”

Post-market animal testing is standing in the way for some companies who sell in China to be cruelty-free. Meaning, there are companies who have manoeuvred their way around the pre-market animal testing law, but fail to fall under the “cruelty-free” criteria in our book because they’re still subject to post-market animal testing. This means that their products can be pulled off the shelves and tested on animals.

There have been headlines reporting this news as “China ending animal testing requirements on post-market cosmetics”, which is misleading.

Humane Society International confirmed on Twitter that it’s unfortunately not the end of post-market animal testing in China.

“The headline is misleading, it’s encouraging but not yet a guarantee that no animal testing will ever again happen post-market, and pre-market animal testing for imported cosmetics remains as before. So what’s changed? China recently released for the first time its post-market testing plan, & it reveals that no animal tests are listed for routine post-market surveillance. However, in the case of non-routine tests, eg: a consumer complaint about a product, unless/until authorities accept modern non-animal eye/skin irritation tests, & invest in local infrastructure to use such tests, animal testing could still be the default. Pre-market cosmetic animal testing in China for foreign imports and special-use products, remains unchanged.”

Bottom Line

Basically, China has removed animal tests for routine post-market inspection. However, animal tests could still be performed in the case of non-routine post-market inspections, such as for a consumer complaint.

Is this the end of post-market animal testing in China? Unfortunately not. However, this is a giant step in a positive direction. China has been slowly making progress in this department, like they’ve proven yet again this month, and we can see a bright future ahead.