The BBC’s top editor in China, Carrie Gracie, has resigned from her post because of pay inequality with male colleagues. In an open letter posted on her website, Gracie said there was a “crisis of trust” at the broadcaster and warned it that it was “breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure”.

Gracie will return to her former position in the newsroom.

“I am not asking for more money,” she said. “I believe I am very well paid already – especially as someone working for a publicly funded organisation. I simply want the BBC to abide by the law and value men and women equally.”

Gracie said the BBC was not living up to its stated values of trust, honesty and accountability when it came to the gender pay gap, and that salary disclosures the media organisation was forced to make six months ago revealed “an indefensible pay gap between men and women doing equal work”.

The disclosures revealed that two-thirds of the channel’s stars earning more than £150,000 (Rs 1.28 crore) a year were male, the BBC reported. The broadcaster, however, said there was “no systemic discrimination against women”.

Gracie’s colleagues came out in her support, calling her resignation a “brave and brilliant” move. Radio 4 Today presenter Sarah Montague, Jane Garvey of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and presenter Christian Fraser were among the many who backed her.

“Not sure what is so hard to understand about #equalpay for equal work,” Montague said. National Union of Journalists’ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said it was not surprising that Gracie had broken the silence about the “scourge of unequal pay” at the BBC.

BBC Media Editor Amol Rajan said Gracie’s resignation, and her charge that the corporation’s promises to address the issue were hollow, was a “big, big headache” for the BBC.