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In an open letter, Ms Gracie said the issue was about "men earning more in the same jobs or jobs of equal value".

Carrie Gracie's departure is the latest aftershock from the BBC's forced publication previous year of pay levels for its top earners that showed two-thirds of those in the top bracket were men.

Given her fearless and determined reporting, providing viewers and listeners with awesome and unparalleled insights into China over the past four years, it's no surprise that NUJ member Carrie Gracie is not prepared to stay silent about the injustice wrought upon her by her own employer.

"I thirty years at the BBC, I have never sought to make myself the story and never publicly criticised the organisation I love".

"I believe in public service broadcasting and I do think salaries at the top are unacceptably high", she added.

Speaking in December, the Guildford MP and Minister of State for Apprenticeships, Skills and Women said, "Despite the Equal Pay Act being passed almost 50 years ago, too many women are still held back in their careers".

"I think the scale of feeling, not just among BBC women but also just more widely across the country and also internationally, the support that I've had in the last few hours over this, I think it does speak to the depth of hunger for an equal, fair and transparent pay system".

Look at sports. Women are constantly paid less than men, even if they are playing the same sport for the same amount of time. "This bunker mentality is likely to end in a disastrous legal defeat for the BBC and an exodus of female talent at every level".

Senior sources said bosses were hopeful they could persuade Miss Gracie, who lived 5,000 miles from her teenage children while in Beijing, to remain China editor. Like many other BBC women, I had long suspected that I was routinely paid less, and at this point in my career, I was determined not to let it happen again.

Now, though I don't wholeheartedly agree with these arguments, I do believe they are valid and are worth thinking about when discussing the gender pay gap.

Gracie's stand was one of the top news headlines of the day on the BBC itself and on other British media, and many prominent women from the BBC and beyond voiced their support on social media under the slogan #IStandWithCarrie.

In July last year, the BBC was forced by government request to reveal the salaries of all employees earning more than £150,000 ($203,000) a year.

The 55-year-old was furious that North America editor Jon Sopel was paid up to £250,000 and Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen up to £200,000.

While she has quit her job in China, Ms. Gracie said she will return to a former position within the newsroom "where I expect to be paid equally", she wrote.

Since that time she had been in negotiations with the BBC about her pay.

"Enough is enough", she wrote in a personal blog post announcing her decision, saying the public-funded BBC was suffering a "crisis of trust" because "it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure".

Why were you willing to offer a pay raise to Gracie, yet still refuse to give her equal pay? It said there were differences between roles which justified the pay gap, but it has refused to explain these differences.

Journalist Carrie Gracie has earned huge praise from her female BBC colleagues after she resigned as the BBC's China editor in protest at the corporation paying men more than women for doing the same job.