China’s foot-dragging on giving Hong Kong democracy provides a good indication of what Taiwan can expect if it is annexed by China.

“But just as in any country and any region democratic development is a gradual historical process, Hong Kong’s democratic development must also be pushed forward in a stable, sure-handed and systematic way,” state media quoted Hu as saying.

Despite mass protests and widespread calls for democracy in Hong Kong, China has been unwilling to let the territory decide for itself when it can elect top leaders.

Except, of course, that we in Taiwan already have democracy. This raises a very interesting issue: if the island is annexed by Beijing, how can China exist half-free and half-slave? China will either be required to crush the island’s democracy — which might have grave international and internal repercussions — or else it will have to live with “one country, two systems.” And when ordinary Chinese visit Taiwan and see how much different things are here than there…

Be careful what you wish for, eh? Perhaps our democracy here is a better insurance against annexation than we think. Perhaps that is why China fulminates against it, and exhorts the local pro-China parties to take steps to curtail it. Because not only does every democratic election establish Taiwan as an independent state, but the deeper democracy entrenches, the thornier the problem it presents for the occupation planning.