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Apaochi was a leader of the Khitan tribes (who spoke Mongol) located in northwestern China. He served for three years as the khan of these tribes, at the end of which he refused to resign and declared himself king of the entire nation of Khitan. He later declared himself emperor in 907 when the Tang rule over China collapsed; by 916, he had created a dynasty that was typical of China in those times- and his son was his heir to the throne. He organized ordos (groups of warriors) from among his people (these are similar to hordes, a term invented later), and he later grouped 12 of these groups into an administrative district.

By 926, Apaochi had helped the founder of the Later Qin in his conquest of northern China, which prompted this founder to give Apaochi the northeastern corner of Hopeh province to rule over (this territory is located where modern day Peking is located). When Apaochi died, his people (the Khitans) began to emulate more Chinese customs; by 947 they started the Liao dynasty and claimed Apaochi as the founder of this dynasty, giving him the honorable title of Tai Tsu (which means Grand Progenitor).

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