Share this on Twitter Share this on Facebook Share this on LinkedIn Share this on Sina Weibo Share this on Wechat Share this on LinkedIn Li Qiang Illustration by Nigel Buchanan Li Qiang didn’t expect the McDonald’s executives would fly to New York to see him. It was 2001, and the 29-year-old political refugee from China had just released his first report for China Labor Watch, the labor rights organization he founded. The report was on Merton, a company whose factory in Dongguan, China, produced toys for McDonald’s, Hasbro, and Disney. It followed a two-year investigation that Li, a former Merton factory worker himself, had orchestrated with his contacts there. With detailed evidence, it found that employees were required to work for 120 consecutive days before getting one day off; that up to 20 of them were crammed into one dormitory room; and that the average salary, after required deductions, was just 13 cents per hour. Workers also complained of strong chemical smells and hands frequently burned by paint thinner. Because of an abnormal color in their urine, many told Li’s team they were “sure they will have some kind of cSubscribe, register or login to read the rest. Registered users can access a limited amount of content for free.Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.