In attempting to integrate theory on developed and emerging countries, prior research has focused on the antecedents of specific internationalization decisions of Emerging Multinational Enterprises (EMNEs) rather than conceptualizing internationalization as a recurring process. This approach limits the understanding of the ways that different internationalization paths lead to different performance outcomes. Using a geographic relational approach and a portfolio-level analysis, we demonstrate that the ability of Chinese EMNEs to increase innovation performance is driven by how and where they choose to internationalize over time. Our framework resolves these two strategic choices into six dimensions; namely, entry mode, geographic breadth and depth, cultural and institutional distance, and the economic state of the host country. Accordingly, it explains the geographic relational mechanisms through which these six dimensions influence the benefits and challenges of internationalization and, in turn, innovation performance. Results show that Chinese EMNEs improve their innovation performance where they have a portfolio of subsidiaries that (1) is built through M&As (rather than greenfield investments), (2) is distributed across multiple countries (rather than located in fewer locations), (3) is distant from home in terms of culture (but not in terms of institutions), and (4) is located in emerging (rather than developed) countries.