In a landmark win for animals, China has announced that cosmetic testing will no longer include animal tests. Announced by the Gansu Province National Medical Products Association, this marks the end of cosmetic animal testing for all imported and domestically-produced products in China.

Animal welfare organizations Network for Animals (NFA) and Cruelty Free International (CFI) have applauded this progressive step towards the complete elimination of animal testing and call for other countries to follow suit.

China is believed to have the world’s largest cosmetics market, Michelle Thew, chief executive of CFI said in a statement: “This assurance by the Chinese authorities… is an enormous step in the right direction and most welcome. 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.”

It wasn’t long ago that China was known as the last major country to require animal testing on many beauty products. This mandate applied to all imported cosmetics covering everything from sunblock and skin-whitener to deodorant and hair dye.

The problem is, China’s reputation for poor-quality products and fakes mean the Chinese government had to take responsibility for product safety. This led to increased pressure on the country’s cosmetic manufacturers to create safe products.

Animal-protection organizations have been working closely with Chinese stakeholders to replace animal testing, which for cosmetics alone requires the use of an estimated 500,000 animals per year around the world. Small animals like mice are the most widely used in animal testing.

In October 2018, China began taking major steps away from cosmetic animal testing. The country’s National Institute for Food and Drug Control announced that it was looking into “viable alternatives”, putting cruelty-free testing methods at the top of the priority list for the organization, and in turn, the Chinese government. It is unclear what those alternative methods are.

David Barritt, chief campaigner for NFA’s chief campaigner said: “We applaud China’s move towards cruelty free cosmetics testing. However, the sad truth is that there are still over 200 countries that continue this cruelty, including the USA.”