The Chinese people were called the “Xia People” or the “Qin People” by their neighboring ethnic minorities before the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) and were changed addressee to the “Han People” since the Han Dynasty’s prosperity; correspondingly the Chinese nation was called the “Han Nationality”. The origin of Hanzhong’s name originates from its situation (in the middle reaches of the Hanjiang River).
Hanzhong is the cradle of the Han Dynasty. According to Historical Records of Ancient China, Xiang Yu, the King of the Chu Kingdom, had demoted Liu Bang to Hanzhong, aiming to allowing no chance for him to exert his capability and exhausting him to death.
Having known this, Liu Bang got furious and was about to rebel against Xiang Yu. Persuaded by Xiao He, his prime minister, he led his subordinates to Nanzheng County, pretending that he acted obedience to Xiang Yu. The famous counselor Zhang Liang escorted Liu Bang to the middle reaches of the Baohe River, where he persuaded Liu to burn all the plank roadway down, which would show his determination to stay in Hanzhong all his life and never return to the east to Xiang Yu, thus Xiang Yu’s precautions and morale in Shaanxi province would be slackened so that Liu Bang could win the time to drill his troops and collect munitions and wait for his chance to wage a war against Xiang Yu.
When Liu Bang arrived in Hanzhong, he set up an altar outside the southern gate, made a courtesy invitation for Han Xin and entitled him a general according to Xiao He’s recommendation. Later he adopted Han Xin’s tactic “Do one thing under cover of another” and led his troops occupying the central Shaanxi, conquered the Eastern China and waged a war there. He exterminated his peers, overthrew the Chu Kingdom in five years and united the overall China. And he still used “Han” as the name of his dynasty。
Since then all the other ethnic nationalities around China revered the Han Dynasty’s power and prosperity, they addressed the Chinese the “Han People”, their characters the “Han Characters”, their language the “Han Language”, etc. No wonder even Encyclopaedia Britannica recorded that “The Han Nationality emerged in the Han Dynasty.”
In addition, Hanzhong got its name from the Hanjiang River originating from Ningqiang County. It was rumored that the river connects to the Milk Way, henceforth comes Hanzhong, the Han Dynasty, the Han Nationality, Chinese characters, Sinology and the splendid Chinese culture. So we can proudly say that the headwaters of the Hanjiang River can be regarded as the ancestry of the Han Nationality.