The self-strengthening movement (), c 1861–1895, was a period of institutional reforms initiated during the late qing dynasty following a series of military defeats and concessions to foreign powers. to make peace with the western powers in china, prince gong was made regent, grand councilor, and head of the newly formed zongli yamen (office of foreign affairs). he would be assisted by a new generation of leaders (see below). by contrast, empress dowager cixi was virulently anti-foreign, but she had to accommodate prince gong because he was an influential political figure in the qing court. she would, however, become the most formidable opponent of reform as her political influence increased. the majority of the ruling elite still subscribed to a conservative confucian worldview, but following china's serious defeats in the first and second opium wars, several officials now argued that in order to strengthen itself against the west, it was necessary to adopt western military technology and armaments. this could be achieved by establishing shipyards and arsenals, and by hiring foreign advisers to train chinese artisans to manufacture such wares in china. as such, the "self-strengtheners" were by and large uninterested in any social reform beyond the scope of economic and military modernization.