TikTok has propelled its Chinese mother company ByteDance into a tech empire, as the wildly popular app has established itself as a de facto social media giant, attracting millions of users in the U.S. But with the company now in discussions to sell the app to U.S. tech giant Microsoft, some people in China are less than pleased.

As TechCrunch reported, hundreds of netizens flocked to Chinese microblogging site Weibo to vent their disappointment at ByteDance chief executive officer Zhang Yiming for his capitulating in the possible sale of TikTok to an American firm.

On their social media platform, Chinese netizens are now calling ByteDance a "traitor" for working with U.S. investors. Based on the Tech Crunch report, some people in China were said to be dismayed about the prospect of the TikTok app becoming a U.S. plaything and thus ranted about the company, even ripping Zhang for being an "American apologist."

After months of efforts to persuade American regulators and the public that it was not divulging user data to the Chinese government, TikTok faces two choices: either sell its business in the U.S. by order of the Committee on Foreign Investment, or comply with an executive order that would prohibit TikTok's use in the country.

Beijing-headquarted ByteDance is weaving through all the possibilities to resolve an escalating dispute with Washington, Zhang said, pointing out that the biggest startup in the world has not yet come up with a fixed mindset on choices like selling TikTok U.S. to Microsoft Corp.

ByteDance has come under heavy strain from U.S. legislators to sell off its U.S. TikTok business and has been given a 45-day ultimatum to negotiate with Microsoft pertaining to such an agreement.

ByteDance had tried to court policymakers – who are quite paranoid about the Chinese platform's data collection and the potential link with the Chinese government – by moving away its local operations from the app, and employing almost 1,000 personnel in the U.S. and handpicking Walt Disney Co. veteran Kevin Mayer as top boss. However, Zhang said efforts to ease the White House's worries might not be enough at the moment.

As TechCrunch reported, users did not mince words and called Zhang a coward. Zhang, they said, used to praise the U.S. for allowing debate, "unlike in China where opinions are one-sided," one user wrote. "Now he got a slap in the face, why does he not go argue with the U.S.?" the report said, adding that Zhang's Weibo account is currently suspended in the face of growing criticisms against the CEO on the site.