Author: Edwina Jones

Currently studying Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies/ Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong. I enjoy travel and aspire to work overseas after completing university.

Animal Testing In China: An Autoethnographic Experience




Hey all, in light of the recent laws passed in regards to animal rights in China, I am going to tell you about my autoethnographic story of animal enlightenment.

The methodology behind my research into the Chinese cosmetic industry’s use of animals, follows Ellis, Adams and Bochner’s 2011 Autoethnographic approach. This is as quoted “an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse personal experience in order to understand cultural experience.” This basically mashes the methodologies of autobiographies and ethnographic research.

An aspect of autoethnography that I employed during my research is; focusing on research and writing about socially just acts rather than a preoccupation with accuracy and also using analytical, accessible texts that change us and the world we live in for the better (Holman Jones 2005, p. 764). This influenced the aspect of my research, as I decided to delve into a subject that isn’t too well known of to spread awareness. This provides anyone interested in the opportunity to look into the topic further and make their own conclusions. My experience that will follows is included to hopefully attract those who may not be interested in cosmetic testing on animals in China.

As I could not physically visit China to immerse myself in the research of Animal Rights due to time and financial constraints, I had to settle for a wide research approach and hopefully through the least bias process I could manage from my computer in Australia.

I’ll quickly outline my cultural background so you can understand my biases in beginning this research. I grew up in rural NSW and have a background in family farming and up to this point hadn’t researched into animal rights topics. I have never agreed that using animals for cosmetic testing is ethical but haven’t actively purchased products that did not. If anything this research has taught me about the alternatives to animal testing and I can become a more informed consumer in order to support non-animal tested products.

So whats been happening in China?

Up until 2014, all cosmetic products created and imported into China had to be animal tested by law, but in June 2014 the China Food and Drug Administration removed the requirements for ordinary cosmetics produced within the country to be tested by animals. This includes, make-up, skin, hair and nail care product and fragrances. Special use products such as sunscreen and hair dyes still need to be tested (Huang, 2014).

This was the first step for animal activists in opening the cruelty free cosmetics market in china (Graef, 2014). It was not possible until 2014 for Chinese consumers who are conscious of animal testing to purchase cruelty free products. This often lead to consumers being mislead into thinking they were doing so (Gentlemen Marketing Agency, 2017). A China Food and Drug Administration spokesperson said the change was due to “the fast development of the economy, and animal welfare and protection becoming so popular”(Hall 2012). The China Food and Drug Administration had started to undertake considerable research into testing alternatives.

There is a way for the Chinese consumers to get around these regulations, if products are purchased on foreign e-commerce websites for shipment, then it does not require animal testing. The other alternative to this, is for foreign companies to ship their products to Hong Kong (where there is no animal-testing regulations) where an agent will then send the products directly to the consumer. Another way international companies got around this was by shipping semi-finished products for bottling or re-packaging in China, as by law this is considered as final ‘manufacturing’ and therefore not requiring animal testing (Reach24H, 2016). This does help the cruelty free consumers in the mean time, but this is not a long term fix, as consumers should have access to purchase cruelty-free products locally.

China didn’t always require animal testing, it was only in 1990 that safety regulations required special-use products to be tested on animals. And in 2012, this was extended to ordinary products, therefore cutting large international manufacturers such as The Body Shop and Lush out of the market due to their committed non-animal testing methods. Some companies loosened their non-animal testing policies to remain in the market. The Chinese cosmetic industry is a fast-growing market with nearly $1.7 billion imported each year (Huang, 2014). This was too enticing for some companies to remain loyal of their commitment to non-animal testing methods.

These changes to the animal testing are extremely behind the times, Britain banned animal testing in 1998, and the EU in 2013 (McKie 2015). Artificial skin cells are now used for cosmetic testing, and is cheaper that the cost of using animals (Humane Society International, 2017). So why are animals still being tested on in China?

The Institute for In Vitro Sciences focuses on non-animal testing methods and has been persuading the Chinese government to accept non-animal methods for cosmetic testing. In 2016, the Chinese government said that they would be recognising data from a completely non-animal test method for safety evaluations of cosmetics (PETA, 2016).

So the Chinese government is starting to move towards a cruelty free future, but this is taking a long time. Through my research I have noticed support from domestic and foreign companies as well as the consumers within China supporting non-animal testing methods.

I read through a report investigating the regulation of domestic non-special use cosmetics and animal testing by the Reach24H Consulting Group China 2016. This group provides efficient and cost-effective regulatory compliance solutions for manufacturers and importers (Reach24H, 2017). The report explains that some of the reasons that China is still relying on animal testing is the barriers to alternative testing methods. The ethics surrounding human trials also makes the conservative authority rely on animal testing for the safety of the Chinese consumers (Reach24H, 2016).

Another barrier to alternative testing is the differing level of expertise in Chinese labs, meaning that alternative tests may not have the ability to be repeated effectively (Reach24H, 2016). These barriers are however being overcome by international scientists lending their expertise to the Chinese market to increase the accessibility of alternative testing methods. This has included scientists from Britain training Chinese scientists in techniques to replace the use of animals in cosmetic testing(McKie, 2015). It seems that China and its consumers are open and invested in animal testing alternatives, but unwilling to completely ban the practice until there are safe alternatives in place. If companies and consumers continue to support the development and accessibility of these alternative techniques then this will make the process much faster.

One thing I have learnt from this experience, is how ruthless animal rights companies and lobbyists can be. For example The Choose Cruelty Free Campaign, sent a letter to all the companies registered on their list and stated that if they “entered a market where animal testing of your products is required they will be removed from the Choose Cruelty Free List” (Choose Cruelty Free, 2013). This means that companies that are still selling cruelty-free products in other markets will lose their accreditation if they decide to enter into a mandatory animal-tested market. This threatening behaviour is perhaps what the market needs. Companies are often too interested in profits and if the Choose Cruelty Free List has an impact on the companies overall profit and image as a brand then I applaud them for making this stance.

Through conducting this research, I have a greater understanding of the role consumers have to play in shopping wisely and informing themselves. This is to ensure they do not support companies that have the opportunity to use animal testing alternative but choose not to. This should be extended beyond the Chinese market and consumers, because all international markets and consumers have to opportunity to make an impact and change the products we see on our shelves. If anything, I have learnt that we individuals have a part to play in supporting cruelty-free products so that we create a market share large enough that forces companies to use non-animal testing methods.

Thank you for listening, all sources used in this podcast will have links below if you wish to research further. I hope you’ve learnt a bit more about the use of animal testing in China and how you can make a difference to your own market.




2013, ‘China plans to phase out mandatory cosmetics animal testing’, Newspaper Source Plus, 11 September, <;

Choose Cruelty Free 2017, China – what’s the story?, Choose Cruelty Free, viewed 20 October 2017, <>

Doke, S.K. & Dhawale, S.C. 2013, ‘Alternatives to animal testing: A review’, Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 223-229.

Ellis, C, Adams, T.E & Bochner, A.P. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1, <;

Gentleman Marketing Agency 2016, ‘I am not A Goods’, image, Cosmetics China Agency, viewed 8th September 2017, here

Gentleman Marketing Agency 2017, Welcoming Gesture of China for non-animal tested imported cosmetic products, Cosmetics China Agency, viewed 8th September 2017, <;

Graef, A 2014, It’s Official! China Ends Mandatory Animal Testing for Cosmetics, Care 2, viewed 8th September 2017, <>

Hall, C 2012, ‘China Eyes End To Animal Testing’, WWD: Women’s Wear Daily, vol. 203, no. 57.

Harris, D 2014, China Cosmetics From Overseas. Animal Testing Required, China Law Blog, weblog post, 29 July, viewed 18 October 2017, <>

Hartung, T & Leist, M 2008, ‘Food for thought on the evolution of toxicology and the phasing out of animal testing’, University of Konstanz, vol. 2, pp. 91-96. <;

Hoffman, S 2016, ‘On the road to animal-free skin sensitisation risk assessment: Cosmetics Europe’s assessment of testing strategies’, Toxicology letters, vol. 258, pp. 208-209.

Holman Jones, Stacy (2005). Autoethnography: Making the personal political. In Norman K. Denzin & Yvonna S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp.763-791). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Huang, S 2014, ‘China Ends Animal Testing Rule for Some Cosmetics’, The New York Times, 30 June, <>

Humane Society International 2017, Costs of Animal and Non-Animal Testing, Humane Society International, viewed 20 October 2017, <>

McKie, R 2015, ‘UK scientists to help China stop animal tests on imported goods’, The Guardian, 8 November,  <>

PETA 2016, Update: China to Approve First Non-Animal Cosmetics Test, PETA, viewed 20 October 2017, <>

PETA 2017, PETA Funds Non-Animal Methods, PETA, viewed 8th September 2017, <>

REACH24H Consulting Group China 2016, Investigation Report on Regulation Status of Domestic Non-special Use Cosmetics Related Animal Testing, REACH24H Consulting Group China, viewed 18 October 2017, <>

REACH24H, Welcome to REACH24H, REACH24H, viewed 18 October 2017, <>

Reisinger, K 2015, ‘Systematic evaluation of non-animal test methods for skin sensitisation safety assessment’, Toxicology in vitro, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 259-270,

Seidle, T 2016, ‘China, Cosmetic Animal Testing and Cruelty-Free: Untangling the Web’, HuffPost, 31 May, <>

Siegel, E 2017, ‘A world without animal testing?’, Allure, Issue 11, p 92-93. <>

Methodology & Epiphanies on China’s Cosmetic Market

I have been using the autoethnographic methodology for my current research into China and the banning of animal testing on cosmetics. In my previous blog, I utilised the narrative and layered accounts angle of autoethnography, explained by Ellis et al. (2011) as using data, abstract analysis, and relevant literature alongside the author’s experience. I decided that this was the best way to conduct my autoethnographic experience, since I could not physically travel to China and experience the animal testing in the cosmetic industry there myself. Therefore, I had to do the best I could with the Internet and my own personal understanding of animal testing in the cosmetic industry (which was limited). I attempted to critically read as many sources, both supporting and opposing the ban on animal testing in China. This lead me to create a firm viewpoint in which I could express my findings.


As I touched on lightly in my previous blog, I was first drawn to this topic to expand my mind about an issue I have avoided previously. This is partly due to my farm upbringing and avoidance of topics that conflict with my support of the agricultural industry. While I agree with the purpose of animals as a source of food, I do not entirely agree with using animals for scientific testing. Also, enforcing this belief in not using animals for testing purposes, is that technological advances offer more and if not better alternatives to animal testing in the cosmetic and health industries.


This autoethnographic style article written by Thomas Hartung (2008), expresses his views based on his personal experience of years working in the field, on the EU changes in cosmetic animal testing. It helped to inform how I expressed my own research on the topic in China, due to my limited experience and expertise in the industry. It enforced my approach as writing a personal story on how I reacted to the research rather than focusing on the facts of the situation, so that my readers can empathise with the research rather than critique its content. Ellis et al. (2008) discusses how verisimilitude evokes a feeling in readers with the experience as lifelike, believable and possible. It was according to this that I attempted to persuade my readers at the end to think about their own personal choices when it comes to purchasing cosmetic products, because they do have the ability to make a change. Even though my readers are mostly Australian University students, and my blog discusses the Chinese market, there are parallels that can be drawn between the two and implicated within our lives.


Another aspect of autoethnography that I employed in my research is, explained by Holman, Jones (2005, p.764) as “researching and writing socially-just acts; rather than a preoccupation with accuracy” and to also use “analytical, accessible texts that change us and the world we live for the better”. This influenced the aspect of my research, I decided to delve into a subject that isn’t too well known and just scratch the surface to spread awareness. This provides the audience with the opportunity to look into the topic in more depth and make their own conclusions. My experience is included only to attract others attention who may not usually be interested in the subject.


During my research I had a few major epiphany moments, that I documented in my notes whilst I was investigating the Chinese cosmetic market. My first epiphany was questioning what alternatives are used instead of animals for testing cosmetic products? This was an important question for me and discovering the answer dictated how I continued my research. I learnt more about how the technological advances have made it possible and irrelevant for the use of animals to be tested on.


Another epiphany was regarding my interest in the Marketing and Public Relations aspect of my research, these communicators have a large part to play in spreading information and awareness of animal testing in global markets. I was researching into the Marketing Agency, Gentleman Marketing Agency, and noticed that they have an interest in seeing a cruelty-free cosmetic market, yet little has been done to spread this awareness, presumably due to the clients they are working for. This lead me to noting the opportunity for Marketing and Public Relations, along with the Media, to do their part in stopping animal testing, through advertisements and communication.


My understanding of using the autoethnography when conducting research after this experience, has taught me that it can be a useful tool when attempting to generate interest surrounding a topic. By using personal experience, audiences are drawn and are more personally interested in the topic, rather than a dry straight academic recounting of a topic.






Ellis, C, Adams, T.E & Bochner, A.P. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1, <;

Gentleman Marketing Agency 2017, Welcoming Gesture of China for non-animal tested imported cosmetic products,Cosmetics China Agency, viewed 8th September 2017, <;

Hartung, T & Leist, M 2008, ‘Food for thought on the evolution of toxicology and the phasing out of animal testing’, University of Konstanz, vol. 2, pp. 91-96. <;

Holman Jones, Stacy (2005). Autoethnography: Making the personal political. In Norman K. Denzin & Yvonna S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp.763-791). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

China and its Cosmetic, Cruelty Free Future

We are so blinded by our obsessions to consume and wear makeup, always trying to upkeep with different brands and different styles created by markets. We forget to stop and think about where exactly these products are coming from, and who is suffering in the process. Media has always portrayed the beauty industry as being illustrious and something to aspire to, yet for years has neglected how animals have been used to ensure the success of our brands. In recent years, there has been an immergence of understanding amongst the public about how animals are being tested on so that the products that hit our shelves won’t harm us.


We live in a technological age where, new advances in non-animal testing is becoming increasingly more accessible. It is reaching the point where we now have suitable, and in some cases more successful alternatives to animal testing. PETA often funds research into non-animal testing options such as, the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS). See here for more information.


The Australian cosmetic industry is far from being totally cruelty free, but it made me think about other countries such as China, and what the standard for animal testing is there. I will also glance into this issue from a Public Relations and Marketing perspective. This is because I have a personal interest (as a PR & Marketing student) in how these shape and influence the issue.


Source: Gentleman Marketing Agency 2016

The intention of this research was to personally learn more about a topic I would usually avoid and widen my perspective on animal rights, through a case study of the Chinese cosmetic industry. Up to this point, I have not actively searched Animal Rights issues and ignored cases regarding animal right violations. As an autoethnographer, I am using this opportunity to discover more about myself through learning about another cultures interaction with a global issue.


This topic is unknown territory for me, as I have never found myself questioning or even thinking about the cosmetic animal testing that occurs within China. Let alone the worldwide issue that comes to hand with this topic.


It lead me to some very basic Google searches, such as “Animal testing China”, and “China Cosmetic Industry”. Surely enough, this helped me gain a basic understanding of the nature and laws surrounding the cosmetic animal testing regulations.


I discovered that, up until 2014, all cosmetic products created and imported into China had to be animal tested by law. But in 2014 the China Food and Drug Administration stopped requiring tests for ordinary cosmetics (make-up, skin, hair and nail care products and fragrances) produced in the country, and allowed these manufacturers to choose alternatives to animal testing. Products manufactured overseas and sold in China, as well as special cosmetics, like sunscreen, all still require mandatory animal testing to be released onto the Chinese market (Care2, 2014).

For the Chinese consumers who are conscious of the impact their choice of product has and are interested in purchasing cruelty free products, it was not possible up until this point. It was the first step for animal activists in opening the cruelty free cosmetics market in China. Up to this point, consumers were being misled into thinking that they were purchasing cruelty-free products.

In terms of the Marketing process of these products in China, I discovered a marketing agency called the Gentlemen Marketing Agency, based in Shanghai and specialises in creating “solutions to develop your Brand in China, cosmetics, Beauty, Health care and pharmaceutical companies”. The agency focuses on creating a firm relationship between foreign companies and Chinese consumers. I was particularly interested in this agency, because of its blogs discussing animal testing on cosmetic products in China. They are against the use of animal testing in the cosmetic industry, and explain their support for the announcement that China will no-longer require international cosmetic products to be animal tested. The blog also calls out companies such as Avon and Mary Kay re-starting their animal testing in order to “grab a larger market share” (Olivier, 2017).


The changing of regulations, that has been ignored by companies, highlights how important it is for consumers to shop wisely and inform themselves. This is to ensure that they do not support companies that have the opportunity to use non-animal testing but choose not to. This does not just regard the Chinese market and Chinese consumers, but all international markets and their consumers. There is also a need for more Marketing and PR agencies to stand up against large cosmetic companies, by creating campaigns to deter consumers from supporting animal tested product.


This research has taught me that we all have a part to play in supporting cruelty free products, so that we create a market share large enough that forces companies to use non-animal testing.



Gentleman Marketing Agency 2016, ‘I am not A Goods’, image, Cosmetics China Agency, viewed 8th September 2017, here

Gentleman Marketing Agency 2017, Welcoming Gesture of China for non-animal tested imported cosmetic products, Cosmetics China Agency, viewed 8th September 2017, <;

Graef, A 2014, It’s Official! China Ends Mandatory Animal Testing for Cosmetics, Care 2, viewed 8th September 2017, <>

PETA 2017, PETA Funds Non-Animal Methods, PETA, viewed 8th September 2017, <>

Understanding my world through Autoethnography

The idea of Autoethnography is so foreign to me. So far in my academic career I’ve transformed from the high school system “1st person is evil”, to welcoming how your cultural perceptions has shaped how you understand a situation. Ellis et al. defines Autoethnography as:

“An approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno)”

Therefore, this incorporates how a person understands a situation or event due to how their personal experiences have shaped their way of thinking. To be an autoethnographer, you must first explain your cultural upbringing to your readers/audience and then critically analyse how this has formed your understanding.

If you read my last blog, I attempted a little autoethnography, by critically analysing how I took meaning from watching Godzilla based on my cultural upbringing. It was a different approach to writing that I haven’t noticed myself using up to this point in my academic career. Yet, it makes sense to use this form of research and writing, because it can be used as a tool for further understanding of yourself and those around you.


Photo I took of the beach (Otres Beach, Cambodia)

I noticed myself doing this in my recent travels to Cambodia. I was sitting on a beach, and women were walking up and down the beach selling foot rubs, manicures and pedicures to tourists. I was approached by one woman who was driven to make me buy something from her. I noticed the difference between the selling techniques used by advertising company’s in Australia and her persuasion techniques. She rubbed her hand on my legs and said “Oh! So hairy! You need threading”. I realised this must be how they try to persuade tourists to pay for them for a beauty service. Thinking back to how someone would sell me something in Australia compared to how things are sold in Cambodia is very different. This event made me interested in how the media sold products to Cambodians, and noticed a lot of downgrading their own beauty in order to sell their products. Most of the models on the packaging were white, or looked very similar to white people. This sets the standard of “beauty” in Cambodia and tells people that they aren’t beautiful unless they look white.

I think to how the media sells me products, and I notice a lot of the similar sort of advertising techniques. Therefore, I am interested in researching further into how the Asian advertising market sells its products as part of an autoethnographic project.




Ellis, C, Adams, T.E & Bochner, A.P. 2011, ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 12, No. 1, <;

60 years on and Godzilla is still strong

I’m a 90s baby, I grew up watching Hi-5, The Wiggles (originals) and then grew into more sophisticated films like Mean Girls that truly understood the struggles of growing up in a white privileged society. I’ve grown up in a mostly peaceful time, and the only worries I’ve faced have been “end of the world” scares that never eventuated. As a result, the films I watched growing up were mostly light-hearted fun, adventure filled stories that never showed hard-ships.


Godzilla (1954), image,

I would have never watched Godzilla growing up, and even if I did I would have missed the underlying metaphor behind the film. This is because I’ve never lived in a time where the horror of nuclear war or death of loved ones has ever been a treat to my perfect bubble wrapped life.


As I watched Godzilla, I found it difficult to relate to the characters because I had never experienced anything that made me think about how my life could be affected by this. Also, my experience of films up to this point were American made or American sympathised, therefore the common enemy of those films were Russia, Japan, or Germany that had made up the Axis Powers in World War II. These stereotypes had carried across to my understanding of the world around me, and it was only until I was old enough to experience the world for myself that I found this to be this incorrect.


Therefore, expanding my understanding of International Film is a valuable source to understand how other countries document and make sense of hard-ships they have faced. The Japanese film industry using a nuclear, fire-breathing monster as a metaphor of the destruction the US inflicted upon Japan during the war makes this film more relatable for many different audiences, rather than if it was a more direct portrayal of the event. It ended up becoming a hugely successful formula and as a result, ironically America has released their own Godzilla films.


If you’re interested in a little background reading:

Here’s an article of photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki then and now from the Guardian 

And a review of Godzilla