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FILE PHOTO - China's President Xi Jinping attends a welcoming ceremony for Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping is a diplomatic pioneer whose ideology has transcended centuries of Western international relations theory, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday, lauding Xi ahead of a congress of the Communist Party.

China has become more assertive in its foreign policy under Xi, who has touted his global Belt and Road infrastructure plan and sought to position China as a pillar of globalisation.

China has also extended its global military reach, opening its first overseas base in Djibouti and using its expanding navy to take a more assertive stance in maritime disputes with neighbours.

Xi's "diplomatic thought" was a compass for foreign relations under new conditions and had become a marker of China's soft power, Wang said in an article in the Study Times, the official paper of the Central Party School that trains officials.

"It also innovates upon and transcends the past 300 years of traditional Western international relations theory," said Wang, who has been taking an increasingly high profile as China expands its presence on the global stage.

Wang credited Xi with seeking friends and partners not allies, putting aside differences to seek common ground, and doing away with the "Cold War thinking" of "he who is not my friend is my enemy".

With the resolution of a "reformer and a pioneer", Xi had answered the call of the times to "put forward many new ideas that his predecessors had not", Wang said.

Wang credited China with successes under Xi, including promoting talks and denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula, as well as helping to counter global threats posed by international terrorism, climate change and cyber security issues.

Since assuming office almost five years ago, Xi has consolidated power, including heading a group leading economic reform and appointing himself commander-in-chief of the military, though as head of the Central Military Commission he already controls the armed forces.

The party will open a once-every-five-years congress on Oct. 18, at which a new Standing Committee, the pinnacle of power in China, will be constituted.

Diplomatic sources believe Wang could take over later this year as China's top diplomat from State Councillor Yang Jiechi, 67, Wang's predecessor. Yang outranks Wang.

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Ben Blanchard, Robert Birsel)

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Reuters