The Middle Kingdom is known as China in Western Europe firstly due to the Western State of Qin being as one end of the long overland Silk Road trade route and secondly due to there being various dynasties and smaller states in Northern China called Tsin Qin Chin or Jin and IndoEuropean speakers hearing several sounds they couldnt distinguish as a "CH".
However "CHINA" was nearly CHU.
Unless you are deeply read on Chinese History you may not known of Chu as a state that for several centuries was a major power among the Sinitic speaking and Sinicized cultures occupying the area that is now China.
Compare the two maps.
The much smaller HAN state was NOT the origin of the name of the HAN dynasty.
Qin conquered Han and Chu and the other states shown but the general who founded the HAN dynasty was ironically from the CHU state but took his earlier title of HAN WANG given by the rulers of Qin and used that for his dynasty name.
Look again at how much terrority CHU controlled at its peak!
WHAT IF CHU had defeated Qin or if the revolts again the "Western" Han's unifications had succeeded and there was a CHU dynasty replacing the HAN with the centres of power being along the Yangtze and not or no longer Luoyang or Changan/Xian and never Beijing?
More on CHU and CHU culture in my next post.
How Chinese culture might have changed if the South dominated the North?
How would that have effected other nearby cultures in SE Asia?
Whats special about CHU culture!