A trainee pilot with Hainan Airlines was arrested on Tuesday by mainland Chinese police after he was accused of climbing into a Hong Kong film director’s hotel room via an 18th floor balcony and attempting to rape her a week ago on southern China’s Hainan Island.
The arrest came after Hong Kong film director Sharon Lam Suk-ching released a statement on Monday night accusing a man, who she said was a cadet pilot named Bai, of “attempting to rape” her in a hotel room in Haikou, the island’s capital and where the airline is based.
Haikou’s public security branch in Qiongshan district said on its official Weibo account that they detained a suspect in relation to the case. They identified him as a 27-year-old man, surnamed Bai, who is an employee with Hainan Airlines.
“The Qiongshan branch of Haikou city’s public security bureau has established it as a criminal case,” the branch said in a statement.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hainan Airlines, China’s largest privately owned carrier, said it had suspended an employee, surnamed Bai, who was being investigated by police over “personal misconduct” in an incident that took place when he was off-duty.
Lam said Bai climbed into her hotel room from a neighbouring room at about 6am on July 16 via the balcony on the 18th floor of the building.
“I was sleeping in my hotel room when I suddenly felt a person pressing on top of me, touching my chest. A strange man, who was only wearing black underwear, was trying to rape me,” Lam said in a statement released on Weibo through mainland Chinese playwright Song Fangjin.
Lam fought the man off, chased him out of the hotel room and called police.
According to the director, Bai said he had made a “stupid mistake” after getting drunk.
At the police station on the same day, Lam said she was told by officers to settle with Bai as she was not familiar with mainland Chinese law. She claimed police did not take notes or her statement.
Several days later when she went to the station to file an official police report, Lam said that a representative from Hainan Airlines advised her not to sue the man, saying that “the cost of training a pilot was very high”.
A police officer also told her that if she insisted on legal action, the director said, the man would file charges against her for attacking him as she had hit him.
Haikou’s public security branch said it was looking into the conduct of its officers.
“In response to allegations online regarding the improper handling by police law enforcement, the police disciplinary inspection department is already involved in the investigation. If verified, it will be handled according to the law and will not be tolerated,” it said.
Lam sought legal advice from a mainland Chinese lawyer in Hong Kong and said she decided to drop out of the current television drama she was working on due to exhaustion and not being able to legally deal with the matter.
“The only thing I ask for, in making this public, is the hope that the relevant parties will handle the matter in accordance with the law, and justice will prevail. I still have faith in our homeland’s rule of law,” she said.
“It is unthinkable that a future pilot, who would be in control of the lives of several hundred passengers, could get drunk, risk his life climbing over the balcony of an 18th-floor building and commit such an offence. It is a pity that the airline only cares about the cost of training and does not consider the safety of its future passengers.”
Hainan Airlines said it was cooperating with police in their investigation, adding that they would not tolerate any violation of the law.
Lam was on the island working on a mainland television crime drama, Route, which has yet to be broadcast.
She is known for her work as an assistant director on films starring Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan and Chinese martial arts legend Jet Li, including The Forbidden Kingdom, Rumble in the Bronx and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, according to the Internet Movie Database website.
Tenky Tin Kai-man, the chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers’ executive committee, said he had met Lam the day after she returned to Hong Kong last week.
“She’s doing all right now, but I could tell she was visibly shaken and a little emotional when she had to recount the incident,” Tin said.
The federation’s team of lawyers in the mainland has been helping Lam with the case and the public security bureau has been in contact with Lam after she released the statement, Tin said.