Did the Romans ever reach China ? This is a new theory which has approval by the communist party as well.
The earliest recorded official contact between China and Rome did not occur until 166AD, when, according to a Chinese account, a Roman envoy arrived in China, possibly sent by Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Remarkably, that was the only contact between the two great powers of which a record survives. The Romans referred to the people of the remote east as the Seres—the silk people. But that term could have referred to the Central Asian tribes whose trade with the Chinese no doubt included silk—which the Romans long thought grew on trees. The secret of silk production reached the West only in the sixth century, from the Byzantines.
It may well irritate some of the proud custodians of China’s cultural heritage that it was foreigners who first promoted the theory of the Roman settlement. Homer Dubs, a professor of Chinese at Oxford University, raised it in a lecture delivered to the China Society in London in 1955. According to Dubs, the journey to Gansu began in 53BC when Crassus, who together with Julius Caesar and Pompey formed Rome’s First Triumvirate, decided to make up for his lack of military glory by going to war with the dreaded Parthians.
Dubs says the Chinese kept the ex-legionaries as frontier guards, installing them in a specially created town called Liqian in what is now Gansu
Crassus’s legions were no match for the Parthian archers, nimble horsemen who could loose their arrows off even as they turned. Of the 42,000 Romans who set out, 20,000 were killed and 10,000 were captured in the battle of Carrhae, in modern Turkey; it was one of the most spectacular losses of Roman military history. According to Pliny the Elder, the Roman prisoners were used by the Parthians as guards on their eastern frontier in what is today Turkmenistan. From there, Dubs conjectured, some escaped and joined the Huns as mercenaries. In 36BC, Chinese troops on a punitive venture defeated the Hun ruler Zhizhi in today’s Uzbekistan. Among their captives they found 145 Romans. Dubs says the Chinese kept the ex-legionaries as frontier guards, installing them in a specially created town called Liqian in what is now Gansu. [The Romans in China]