Financially-troubled Hearts have accepted a bid believed to be worth around £400,000 for the 23-year-old Australia international, whose contract is due to expire at the end of the season.
Right-back McGowan has been withdrawn from the Hearts squad for Thursday's Edinburgh derby with Hibernian in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and is due to travel to China imminently.
Hearts manager John McGlynn said: "The club have accepted a bid for Ryan so he won't play any part in the game tomorrow. Although he's not put pen to paper, we run the risk of him getting injured. If he got a serious injury that deal would go down the tube and the football club need the money.
"It's disappointing to lose him but it's the state of affairs. If good offers come in, in the financial situation we find ourselves in, we need to accept them."
McGowan joined Hearts in June 2006 and has made more than 70 appearances for the club, establishing himself as a first-team regular in the last 18 months. He was a William Hill Scottish Cup winner in May, scoring the fourth goal in the 5-1 defeat against Hibs; indeed, both his Hearts goals have come in Edinburgh derbies.
McGowan, an ever-present this term, was seen at Hearts' training base in west Edinburgh ahead of the day's session on Wednesday. McGlynn admitted Hearts are not in a position to rebuff good offers, particularly for those players whose deals expire at the end of the season.
He did not rule out further departures as Hearts seek to erase an anticipated £800,000 shortfall for the season.
"I don't think he wanted to go and for the football club to not get money back for him," McGlynn added. "We are still haemorrhaging money and not bringing in enough.
"It's really just a matter of getting to the summer, then getting the wage bill down to a level where Hearts can work within its means. If the football club feel we have to sell any other players, that would be the reason why. We have to get to the summer."
- Sports & Recreation
- Clydesdale Bank Premier League