Police in Haikou city, Hainan, suspended the officers in charge of a sexual assault case on Wednesday. The officers allegedly refused to open a file for Sharon Lam Suk-ching – a Hong Kong director who was sexually assaulted while filming in the city. They later urged her to drop the case.

The Haikou Public Security Bureau issued an update on Wednesday evening, stating that they had formally arrested the suspect on a charge of attempted rape, and have suspended the police officers involved in the case.

Hainan police weibo notice
Notice from the Haikou police. Photo: Weibo screenshot.

The notice also included a fact summary, which matched the description given by Lam in her public statement. The perpetrator was named by the police as a 27-year-old man from Hebei province surnamed Bai, who worked as a trainee pilot at Hainan Airlines.

“Our investigation shows that, at around 5:30am on July 16, the suspect Bai returned to the hotel drunk and went to his room on the 18th floor. He climbed over to the balcony of Ms. Lam’s neighbouring room and attempted the act, and Lam woke up and expelled him from her room,” the statement read.

A statement by Lam was published on Weibo on Monday detailing her ordeal. She said that the police were unhelpful when she reported the case: first they did not formally set up a case file, and on a return visit, the police urged her to drop the case.

Sharon Lam Suk-ching
Sharon Lam Suk-ching. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

“The police did not take notes or record the interview. Later, Bai’s friend and his superior at Hainan Airlines showed up [at the police station],” Lam said.

“Bai’s boss at Hainan Airlines came to the police station and attempted to dissuade me from pressing charges, saying that the cost of training pilots is high. Suddenly the police said that I had also hit Bai, and if I insist on pressing charges, they will charge me with assault as well,” she added.

‘Have faith in the rule of law’

Hours after Lam’s statement went public, Hainan Airlines acknowledged that the suspect was an employee, and the Haikou Public Security Bureau issued a statement saying they will treat the case seriously.

Chinese netizens have also unearthed and circulated a purported photograph of the suspect in pilot’s uniform.

Hainan Airlines Weibo statement
A statement by the official Hainan Airlines Weibo account. Photo: Weibo screenshot.

Lam issued a follow-up statement on Tuesday thanking the public and the concerned parties for their “positive response.”

“My [original] statement was published for less than a day, and already Haikou’s Public Security Bureau and Hainan Airlines gave positive responses, saying that they will deal with this case in accordance with law. This proves that we should all have faith in our country’s rule of law,” Lam said.

It was reported that on Wednesday Haikou police invited Lam back to identify the relevant police officers, but Lam had not yet decided whether to go. Lam also asked the public to respect her privacy and declined to be interviewed.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.