Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Cruelty Free Basics #2 - the Chinese laws

When researching cruelty-free beauty, you may notice a lot of sources mentioning products that are sold in mainland China. These brands are generally deemed to test on animals, and us cruelty-free aficionados will steer well clear. But what are the exact laws? Let's clear it up...

The long and short of it is that in order to retail your products in China (as a company based outside of China), the government requires you to send samples for animal testing. Therefore even if a product is manufactured in a completely animal-friendly way, once sold in China they cannot be deemed cruelty-free. Companies often try to get around this by stating that they 'only test on animals when required by law' in their official statements, which almost always relates to sales in China - so look out for that one!

As always though, it's not completely straightforward - there's a few other nit-picky details regarding the laws, which I'll attempt to iron out...

- In June 2014, China did begin to change its stance on animal-testing. The country now states that companies manufacturing 'ordinary' cosmetics within China are no longer required to test on animals by law. This however does not change things for any of the beauty companies producing products outside of China and then shipping them in. 'Ordinary' cosmetics are items such as shampoos, makeup, fragrance, nail and skincare products - the government still requires testing on 'special-use' cosmetics, such as hair dye and sun cream.

- If a company manufactures its products in China, you don't have to automatically assume they test on animals. I'll admit, I have been wary of the 'Made in China' label in the past! If made in China but not actually sold in China, a company can maintain a cruelty-free status. With the new laws, if they're 'ordinary' cosmetics made in China and sold in China, they can also be cruelty-free. If you're unsure, I would always recommend contacting the company directly and finding out exactly what they do.

- Products that are manufactured elsewhere can actually be shipped for sale in China without being tested on animals, but apparently it's a very long process and costs a lot in fees. Generally most companies will avoid doing this, but again do contact them to confirm.

- Another grey area is Hong Kong; there's often confusion as to whether Hong Kong is a part of China or not. When brands state they sell or manufacture in China they could in fact mean Hong Kong, where testing isn't actually required by law.

So that's my quick rundown of the facts on China - generally, my stance is to avoid brands that sell their products there, unless they can prove to me that they've put the necessary actions in place to ensure no animal testing is undertaken. I've put together a few reading sources below in case you fancy learning more - if you have any questions or comments, please do leave them below!

Click here to read Humane Society International's document on China 

Click here to read Logical Harmony's brilliant blog on China's laws 

Click here to read another article on the subject from Humane Society International


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