I was watching a programme on BBC iPlayer about the history of collectables and antiques (watch here), and china, or porcelain, was featured.
Fine china or porcelain was imported to Europe by the Portuguese in the 16th century. China is a short version of the original term china-ware, meaning 'ware from China'. The word China itself is not a Chinese word. The OED says the origin is still a matter of debate, but it seems to come from an Indian language or Persian. There were various spellings in the 17th century, including chiney, cheney, cheny and chenea, and yet more spellings in the 18th and 19th centuries - George Eliot has the line "There's none of 'em got better chany" in The Mill on the Floss of 1860. The OED says that the pronunciation chay-nee was fashionable in the 18th century, and some regional dialects still pronounce it as chee-nee.