BYTEDANCE founder Zhang Yiming told employees yesterday that there were misunderstandings on Chinese social media about TikTok's situation in the United States and that the company could face more difficulties as anti-Chinese sentiment rose abroad.
His comments in a letter to ByteDance's Chinese employees came after the company and Mr Zhang were heavily criticised on Chinese social media for entering into talks with Microsoft to sell TikTok's US operations.
Chinese media first reported the contents of the internal letter and Reuters confirmed its contents.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"I actually understand [the criticism]," Mr Zhang said in the letter. "People have high expectations of a company founded by a Chinese person which is going global but have little information about it. With lots of grievances towards the US government, they tend to lash out at us with harsh criticism."
Since Monday, some users of China's Twitter-like Weibo have said they would uninstall ByteDance's Chinese short video app 'Douyin' and news aggregator 'Jinri Toutiao' because they believed ByteDance had given in too quickly to Washington.
Others urged ByteDance to learn from US giant Google, which opted to pull its search engine out of the Chinese market in 2010 after China asked it to censor its search results.
Mr Zhang said some had misunderstood the US situation. He said Washington's goal was not to force a sale of TikTok's US operations but to ban the app, and there was a legal process that ByteDance had to follow.
Zhang also told employees that over the last two years, anti-Chinese sentiment had risen in many countries and the company must brace for more difficulties in the current atmosphere.