The Uighurs, China's Muslim minority, look to the U.S. to provide moral support in their fight against oppression by Beijing. But Washington may have dealt their cause a blow in exchange for China's backing in the war against terror. On Sept. 11, the U.S. persuaded the United Nations to add to its list of international terrorist groups a little-known Uighur independence organization, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. The U.S. State Department linked the group to more than 200 terrorist acts in China's predominantly Muslim province of Xinjiang. But according to foreign diplomats in Beijing, ETIM is an Afghanistan-based group that is thought to be defunct and moreover never carried out operations on Chinese soil. Some of the terror strikes ascribed to ETIM were deadly bombings; others were protest riots or attacks on police stations that don't fit common definitions of terrorism. 'I think the U.S. made a diplomatic deal' so China won't use its U.N. Security Council veto to block an Iraq invasion, says Enver Can, director of the Munich-based East Turkestan National Congress, a Uighur exile group. China in return can crack down on Uighur dissidents as 'terrorists' with less risk of censure for human rights violations, Can claims. 'China has the green light to do whatever it wants.'