Every year, millions of people climb the Western Hills of Kunming for the panoramic view of the city below. As they march upwards to look at the spectacular sights from the summit, far fewer stop to view the memorial and grave of Nie Er, the young composer of China’s national anthem.
In 1935, when all was still quiet on the Western front, the beginnings of World War II were already underway in Asia, with Japanese troops brutally invading China. Inspired by his nationalism, the young songwriter Nie Er (birth name Nie Shouxin) quickly composed a tune known as “March of the Volunteers” to go with a feature film on Chinese resistance against the Japanese.
Unfortunately for Nie Er, he would die the same year of a tragic drowning, at the age of only 23. However, the song became popular as a symbol of resistance and unity, and was eventually declared National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China.
Today, Nie Er’s body is buried in his hometown of Kunming, on the Western Hills. There is a small museum attached to the hill where he is buried, and within the museum are copies of his works and some original artifacts.
Know Before You Go
Make sure you don't take the cable car directly to mountain summit, as it will not stop at the memorial.