We show how the initial subnational entry location of foreign multinational enterprises (MNEs) in China influences their subsequent within-country location choices and expansion speed. We distinguish between MNEs that establish their first subsidiary in co-ethnic cores – dense agglomerations of other firms from the same country of origin – and MNEs that locate their first subsidiary in the periphery, i.e., outside of these co-ethnic cores. To identify co-ethnic cores in China, we employ a geo-visualization methodology, which draws the boundaries of cores organically and dynamically over time. We contrast our findings with the prevailing approach of using static administrative boundaries for identifying agglomerations. Our results provide evidence of path dependency, in that (a) entry through subnational locations with strong co-ethnic communities is followed by expansion into other locations where co-ethnic communities are present, and that (b) entry through co-ethnic communities accelerates the pace at which MNEs establish additional subsidiaries in China. We also find that co-ethnic community effects continue to influence within-country MNE activities over time, despite a host of economic, institutional, and investment developments.