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This article explores the ways in which trade bilateralism, the Sino-Japanese rivalry, and cross-regional free-trade agreements (FTAs) could push East Asia closer to an FTA among China, Japan, and South Korea. Bilateral FTAs may not advance regionalism in a coherent way, but as the stalemate continues between regional visions championed by China and Japan, they will shape the path along which any regional agreements might develop. Bilateral FTAs are a more important force in pushing Asia toward regionalism than negotiations for a China-Japan-Korea FTA or an FTA involving those countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Reflecting the strategic nature of FTA competition in Asia, the cross-regional FTAs that South Korea has negotiated with the European Union and the United States are two of the most important factors moving Northeast Asia in this direction.