Monterey Park city and library officials rejected an offer from the Chinese Embassy to showcase rare Tibetan documents and books.
They also declined an offer to let the library keep the Tibetan language books after the show.
Because of the decades-long Chinese military occupation of Tibet, Monterey Park Library Trustee Joe Rubin objected to holding the exhibit at the Bruggemeyer Memorial Library. The other trustees agreed with Rubin and voted 3 to 0 on Feb. 9 to turn down the embassy's offer.
Rubin said he was disturbed by the potential propaganda value of such an exhibit, which he said could suggest that Tibetans peacefully coexist with occupying Chinese communists. Tibet has been occupied by Chinese military forces since the communist takeover of China in 1949.
"I just think it's inappropriate for an oppressor nation to give an exhibit of the nation they are oppressing," Rubin said.
Mayor Judy Chu agreed, adding that no city-run facility could handle such an exhibit. The library board in Monterey Park is independent of the City Council.
"If there are logistical problems and there are concerns that have merit, why bother?" Chu said.
Chinese embassy officials could not be reached for comment.
Monterey Park is the only city in the United States where a majority of the population--56%--is of Asian descent.
Thubten Samphel, spokesman for the Office of Tibet in Manhattan, called the offer to show the Tibetan exhibit in the United States a "public relations exercise" for the Chinese government.
Since January, the Chinese government in Tibet has put limits on the number of monasteries that can be built and the number of people who can become Buddhist monks, Samphel said. Since 1984, Chinese troops have destroyed about 6,000 temples, leaving only 13 standing, he said. Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has been in exile in India since the early 1960s.
It was unclear where the Chinese would turn next to display the Tibetan book and document exhibit.