Apple is being dragged into a trade war between China and the US, sources in Apple's supply chain claim.

Digitimes reports that there have been three separate events that have caused upstream component suppliers to believe there is a conspiracy by the Chinese government to try to suppress Apple's supply chain.

The sources claim that Apple - along with other US-based companies such as Wal-Mart - is being targeted simply because it is an American company.

The first incident was the publication of reports by five Chinese non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that accused Apple's supply chain of being polluters. The reports, issued in January of this year, were followed up by a pollution map that pinpointed Apple suppliers and linked them to pollution issues in the surrounding areas.

Further pollution claims were made in a television programme aired in the country earlier this month, accusing 27 of Apple's suppliers - including Foxconn and Compeq - of polluting the environment. The programme, called Another Side of Apple, sparked further media coverage into the issue of pollution.

The controversy caused by the programme, the report claims, was a trigger for the third event that proves the Chinese government is targeting Apple. Catcher Technology, which supplies parts to Apple, was accused of releasing toxic gases by local authorities in the Suzhou region.

Catcher was ordered to stop production though Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs, Shih Yen-Shiang, said the case was an isolated incident, though it affected share prices of other Apple suppliers including Largan Precision, Genius Electronic Optical and TPK, the report said.

According to the report: "Speculation in the industry has linked the Catcher incident with the recent trade war between the US and China, rousing suspicions that the orders to disrupt Catcher's business came from the central government and were motived out of retaliation against the US government."

However, the evidence is far from conclusive. Apple has met with the NGOs that criticised it in recent months and insists that it regularly conducts audits of its suppliers and works with them to correct violations.