We here present a study that arms the reader with various discussion points on the research and development (R&D) foreign direct investment (FDI) strategies of Chinese multinational corporations (MNCs) in Europe. Through archival research and interviews, we adopted a multi-case study approach to investigate how significant are these investments and how relevant do they become for the local innovation systems. Our analysis shows that the establishment of R&D centers, and more importantly the evolution of these centers, does not coincide with what international business theories would have predicted. The Chinese MNCs considered entered Europe in a variety of forms, guided by various learning goals. However, we found evidence of the growing tendency of these companies to insulate themselves from local partners and to engage in less explorative and more exploitative R&D activity, adapting technologies developed elsewhere for the European market, gaining access to good indigenous labor and technologies rather than to local partnerships.