Journalist Carrie Gracie has resigned as the BBC's China editor, saying the corporation was facing "a crisis of trust" and accusing it of "breaking equality law".
The BBC News Channel told viewers of Ms Gracie's resignation, which she claimed was prompted by unequal pay within the corporation.
Ms Gracie, who has been with the BBC for 30 years and has described leading the BBC's China coverage since 2004 as "the greatest privilege of my career", has left her role after stating her concerns in a letter addressed to "Dear BBC Audience".
She accused the corporation of a "secretive and illegal pay culture" after it was revealed two-thirds of its stars earning more than £150,000 were male.
The letter says: "My name is Carrie Gracie and I have been a BBC journalist for three decades. With great regret, I have left my post as China Editor to speak out publicly on a crisis of trust at the BBC.
"The BBC belongs to you, the licence fee payer. I believe you have a right to know that it is breaking equality law and resisting pressure for a fair and transparent pay structure.
"In thirty years at the BBC, I have never sought to make myself the story and never publicly criticised the organisation I love.
"I am not asking for more money. 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."
A BBC spokesman said: "Fairness in pay is vital. A significant number of organisations have now published their gender pay figures showing that we are performing considerably better than many and are well below the national average.
"Alongside that, we have already conducted an independent judge-led audit of pay for rank and file staff which showed 'no systemic discrimination against women'.
"A separate report for on-air staff will be published in the not too distant future."