National Geographic : 2010 Mar
One casualty of urban ight may be Shang- hai's local dialect. Rich and guttural, the lan- guage has been losing ground since the 1950s, when Beijing launched its campaign to unify the country with standardized Mandarin. e crowded lilong served to sustain the dialect; in the suburbs, families o en retreat to their pri- vate spaces, blocked o from each other. Even so, many proud Shanghainese use the language as a secret code to signal that they belong to the in crowd---and o en to ensure fair deals in local shops. For Zhang, the allure of the suburbs soon waned. is year the artist and her family will move back downtown. e ostensible reason is to enroll Jiazhen in a top school, but Zhang also manicured lawns and a playground for her seven- year-old daughter, Jiazhen. But the American- style, gated compound lacks the vibrant street life of Zhang's childhood lilong. New construction and suburban migration have eased Shanghai's congestion, more than tri- pling the living space per capita in 30 years. Yet the transition is tearing the fabric of Shanghai- nese culture. Neighbors in suburbia rarely know each other well, despite community-building efforts such as sports leagues and children's playgroups. At this stage the strongest bond among new suburbanites may be their status as property owners---a link that brought residents together last year to ght the proposed exten- sion of a high-speed railway. ONE IS NOT ENOUGH is the mantra of o cials eager to trigger a baby boom in Shanghai. With more than a h of residents over 60, the city is encouraging young parents---such as mothers at the Kang Cheng gated community---to have a second child, a local exception to China's long-standing one-child rule.