(Bloomberg) -- The US won’t be able to cut China out of the critical minerals supply chain even as Washington seeks to diversify its sources of the ingredients that go into everything from electric vehicle batteries to solar panels, a top Biden official said on Friday.

“This is not about China,” Jose Fernandez, the US under secretary for economic growth and the environment, told a briefing in New York. “We are perfectly happy to work with them on this and right now we purchase many of the minerals from Chinese companies. It’s about diversifying.” 

China’s key role in the processing of raw minerals means it will remain a key US partner, Fernandez said, especially because those minerals are a crucial component for the batteries that power electric vehicles. The broader use of EVs is a central tenet of the administration’s climate change efforts.

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“The world needs them to be involved — the broader picture is climate change, and we’re not going to solve the climate crisis without the involvement of the PRC,” he said, referring to the country’s formal name, the People’s Republic of China.

Fernandez leads a State Department initiative called the Minerals Security Partnership, which aims to help funnel foreign investment and western expertise into the mining sectors of developing nations that help supply key raw materials such as lithium, manganese and cobalt.

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“China is the second-largest economy in the world, a major trading partner of the US,” he said. “We will continue working with them while pursuing our interests and protecting our companies and criticizing them when we feel they should be criticized.”

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