Establishing a modern water rights system (WRS) that is suited to the Strictest Water Resources Management System (SWRM) is an important reform in China's water resources management in terms of addressing current water issues. However, there are still several problems in the construction of a WRS, such as ambiguity in the definition of water rights, weakness in the infrastructure of water rights and imperfect WRS legislation. Moreover, water rights allocation (WRA) and water rights trading (WRT), which are two core components of water rights, still have some problems that remain to be solved. The ‘Three Red Lines’, which make up the core of the SWRM, are expounded upon, and the relationship between the WRS and the SWRM is analyzed. Finally, some appropriate recommendations based on the ‘Three Red Lines’ are provided to perfect the WRS so that it is suitable for the SWRM. In this paper, we conclude that the WRS is a type of water resource management that can effectively solve the current water issues in China. Significant efforts have been made in the construction of the WRS, which has achieved remarkable success in a period of exploration and practice in China. The construction of the WRS supports sustainable social and economic development and results in harmonious relationships between humans and nature.

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