This term is an abbreviation of the compound word formed by Zhongguo (中国) and Huaxia (华夏). Here, hua (华) also means “flower” or “flowery,” which was used as an analogy for a splendid culture. The ancestors of the Huaxia people established their state in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, which they thought was the center (zhong) of the world and which had a flourishing culture (hua), so the state was called Zhonghua. This multi-ethnic state, with the Huaxia people as the predominant group of its population, later began its territorial expansions, and the places where it extended to became part of Zhonghua. In modern times, Zhonghua became a term denoting China, the Chinese people, and its culture.
Zhonghua refers to China. Under the wise rule of the sage king, all his subjects belong to China. They are dressed in a dignified manner, practice filial piety, love and respect the elderly, and follow moral norms in personal and social conduct. This is the country called Zhonghua. (Commentary and Explanation on Well-Known Law Cases of the Tang Dynasty)