Christianity, the largest religion of the Western world, and China the oldest nation of the East, have interacted many times through history, as they still do today.
However, as you will see, the coexistence has often been tumultuous with many unexpected events.
The story of Christianity in China begins with silk. The Roman Empire imported silk from China since about the 1st century AD. However, the rise of the Persian Sasanian empire, in the third and fourth century, which was at war with Rome, broke the Silk Road and therefore considerably slowed down importation to the Roman Empire. In the 6th century,
Emperor Justinian the 1st of the Byzantine Empire decided to look for a solution. It was there that two monks of the Nestorian Church got their idea to make a fortune.
The Nestorian church, or Church of the East, follows the vision of Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople, who believed that Jesus was not truly God, but only partly divine and partly human.
The two Nestorian monks were preaching Christianity in India. In 551 A.D. they traveled to China, and studied the process of silk making. It was probably there and then, that Christianity ever entered the Chinese territory. The next year, the monks approached Justinian the first, who agreed to mount an expedition to smuggle silkworms to the Byzantine Empire. In about 554 A.D. the Eastern Roman Empire held its own silk monopoly.
The first written trace of Christianity in China is barely older. A few decades later, another Nestorian missionary, and his friends, traveled to China, probably through the northern Silk Road.