In order to achieve a more sustainable mode of development, the government of China declared its intention to build a harmonious socialist society, and the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) proposed ‘human–water harmony’. However, some problems still exist in China's water resources management (CWRM), which affect management performance and trigger acute water crisis. Nowadays, the human–water relationship in China is disharmonious and the relationship between human activities and water resources has entered into a vicious cycle. This paper concluded that achieving human–water harmony is a necessary and rational pathway to solve China's water problems on the basis of reviewing the development course of CWRM. In order to achieve human–water harmony in China, many impressive efforts both in terms of policies and measures have been made. Ultimately, they pointed out that human–water harmony can be achieved through our tireless efforts as long as people hold the belief that the idea of ‘human–water harmony’ is the first and the foremost way to deal with the contradiction between human activities and water resources.

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