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China's move to minimise animal testing also signals a step forward in global commerce

Governments are increasingly realising vanity shouldn't be at the cost of suffering

Great news just in: China is one step closer to updating its laws that require all cosmetic products to be tested on animals before they can be marketed. This move marks a milestone in the campaign to achieve a global cosmetic industry that offers beauty without cruelty to everyone.

Many people don’t realise that cosmetics are still routinely tested on animals. Although cosmetic animal testing is already banned across the European Union, Israel and India, and the EU implemented an additional marketing ban this year, people are often amazed to find out that testing lipsticks, soaps and skin creams on animals remains legal in more than 80 percent of the world. Up until this announcement, which comes into force in June 2014, China was the only country in the world with mandatory animal testing requirements for domestically manufactured cosmetic products.

I have never understood why our vanity has had to be at the cost of suffering to other living things. Rabbits restrained in stocks with their eyelids forced open with clips while cosmetic chemicals are dripped into their eyes until they are blinded. Animals with their fur shaved away so that caustic ingredients can be rubbed into their delicate bare skin until it’s so sore it’s blistering, red and raw. Routinely, creatures break their necks struggling to escape the torture, writhing in agony.

Is there any place for barbarity of this stomach turning kind in the 21st century? No, of course not and the EU ban proves it. Any deliberate animal cruelty must be hard to justify but it’s a strange one to fathom why it has taken so long for people to only begin to realise that beauty doesn’t have to come blemished with such an ugly stain. Now, at last, the Chinese government has listened to its people who speak with their hearts when they demand cruelty-free cosmetics.

But it’s not just the rabbits and mice that have everything to gain from this development; it’s a beautiful move for commerce too. Now, all those brands that have refused to compromise on their values and test their cosmetic products on animals, such as The Body Shop, Paul Mitchell and LUSH, will be able to trade in China. Chinese brands will now be able to sell in the EU too. Global firms like Yves Rocher, L’Occitane and Caudalie, will no longer be able to conceal the cruelty carried out in their name behind "it’s the law that dun it". And all these companies will profit from the modern scientific testing methods that are faster and cheaper than the traditional animal testing models too.

But let us not forget this: right up until the day the EU ban on cosmetics animal testing came into force industries and commercial brands insisted animals were ‘essential’ and a ban would have ‘dire’ and ‘catastrophic’ consequences. They were proved wrong. The EU has got its beauty cruelty free and this latest change shows that one day China will get it too.

To the authorities in Beijing, “xiè xie.”