GUERILLA warfare has broken out in the alley-ways and side streets of Beijing. Many residents of the old city have embarked on a daring campaign to reclaim their land from the invaders who have overrun and almost completely destroyed their neighbourhoods. The invasion started several years ago but has intensified in the past 12 months to a point where residents can not step out of their courtyard without being confronted with their enemy - the car. Cars are everywhere. Once-quiet and peaceful alley-ways now flow with nearly as much traffic as main thoroughfares, making life for residents noisy, dirty and extremely dangerous. 'It is bad enough that we have to live in these old, run-down houses but to have to deal with cars as well is just too much,' a middle-aged factory worker said. 'There are old people and small children living in this alley, it is really dangerous for them with all these vehicles passing through,' he said. 'Already two people have been hit. Of course, the neighbourhood committee won't do anything about it so we have been forced to take action ourselves.' The solution devised by this particular neighbourhood was to place a large concrete pillar ('borrowed' from a nearby construction site) lengthwise in the middle of the alley so that bicycles and pedestrians could pass unhindered but cars, unless they had a particularly good clearance, would be forced to turn back. 'It works pretty well,' one young resident said. 'You should hear the drivers curse and yell when they turn the corner and find that stuck in the middle of the road. It's great.' Other neighbourhoods have placed metal barriers across the entrance to their streets with signs saying 'Construction work in progress. Keep out.' Naturally, there is no construction work any where to be seen but the barriers seem to do the trick. Many of the tactics employed by the residents seem to be taken directly from the Great Helmsman Mao Zedong's theory of guerilla warfare - 'When the enemy attacks, we retreat.' When a police patrol vehicle came across the concrete pillar barricade, the residents quietly disappeared into their homes and professed absolutely no knowledge of how it got there. When the police officers removed the obstacle, no one got in their way. After the police had gone, several residents went back to the construction site and borrowed another one. 'When the enemy is encamped, we harass them.' Outsider's vehicles parked directly in front of courtyard entrances have been known to have their tyres deflated or wing mirrors removed by disgruntled residents, although such acts of minor vandalism are few and far between. The campaign against the car is certainly not a city-wide phenomenon, after all many courtyard residents have cars of their own. The campaign is primarily restricted to alley-ways which provide a convenient short cut between main roads or a way round the city's irritating one-way system. As more and more cars are forced off the ring roads and major thoroughfares because of the almost constant gridlock that engulfs them, and in to the side streets and alley-ways, the guerilla warfare will only increase. As one young mother living in an alley-way behind the East Lake apartment complex said: 'One child has already been hit by a speeding motorist here and he did not even stop. I'm not going to let that happen to my son.'