Animal-testing no longer mandatory in China for imported general-use cosmetics

1 May marked the advent of cruelty-free cosmetics in China, as mandatory testing was lifted for internationally approved make-up and other cosmetic products.

  • China’s National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) has announced imported, safety-approved products will not undergo mandatory animal testing
  • ‘Approved products’ are those awarded a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certificate by their country of origin and safety assessment certificate
  • This development results from years of collaboration between China and the UK Government, the EU, Cruelty Free International, international corporates and diplomats

Animal testing for general cosmetics imported to China has been a concern for many global ethical consumers for many years. Finally, China took a significant stride towards ethical consumption in May, when it renounced the requirement for domestic testing of safety-approved cosmetic products from overseas.

The genesis of the scheme to banish animal testing on products that have already been safety-approved for public use began in 2017, at a meeting of international stakeholders in Shanghai, including representatives from China’s cosmetic industry. At the event, participants discussed an ambition to eliminate inhumane animal testing. A meeting followed between the UK Department of International Trade and representatives from Leaping Bunny companies at the China-Britain Business Council, setting an agenda to banish the legislation that kept cruel animal tests on safe products as a perpetual standard.

Through a cohort of NGOs and diplomatic trade-lobbying efforts to establish safety reassurance in China, a new certificate of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and accompanying safety assessment certification are now established. Brands and companies manufacturing ni the UK can obtain a GMP certificate from the UK Government. Applications for the certificate are handled by the Import Licensing Branch (ILB) in the Department for International Trade (DIT), mandated and supported by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), as part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The UK and French governments are the first two countries to use the system to allow safety-assured imported products to be sold in China without testing on animals.

ACTAsia has been promoting a compassionate lifestyle to consumers in China since its inception as a non-profit in 2006, and applauds the new policy. Reducing human impact on nature and all sentient beings is at the core of a consumer education programme, which works to expose harmful production methods for common commodities. The public campaign reaches children as well as adult consumers, helping the next generation to form responsible consumption habits.

ACTAsia has held an annual sustainable and fur-free fashion festival in China each year, which alongside the Fur-Free catwalk promotes the exclusive use of cosmetics that haven’t been tested on animals, as well as a plant-based meal for all participants.

“We have raised the profile of cruelty-free among the public in China over the past 15 years through our campaign for responsible consumption,” said ACTAsia’s CEO Pei Su, “and now we see the evidence that people can be the change. This new legislation has been supported by public demand and will help more consumers in China live compassionately, without causing harm to animals or the environment. The industry has really stepped up to the mark, working with many partners to make this happen. We are so pleased that the Leaping Bunny will soon be jumping for joy on labels across China.”

As China is the world’s biggest and fastest growing market for cosmetics, the new law will open the door to a growing market for many cruelty-free brands. ACTAsia will continue to work with companies, decision makers, media, communities, fashion leaders and educators to promote a compassionate lifestyle, and encourage Chinese consumers to purchase more cruelty-free cosmetic products.

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