A million-dollar portrait of Mickey Mouse, the animated character who has become America's most popular ambassador to China, became part of the U.S. Embassy's art collection Friday.

Nearly a dozen children of embassy personnel - each sporting a homemade set of mouse ears - marked the occasion by singing the "Mickey Mouse March" and "It's a Small World."The $1 million portrait of the internationally famous rodent, who is celebrating his 60th birthday this year, is on loan from Walt Disney Enterprises because of Mickey's popularity with the Chinese people.

"He's the best ambassador to China we've ever had," said Bette Bao Lord, wife of U.S Ambassador Winston Lord.

Every Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. an estimated 210 million Chinese - about a fifth of the population of the world's most populous nation - tune in to watch the animated adventures of Mi Laoshu and Tang Laoya: Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

The cartoons have been shown for almost two years through a joint agreement between Disney and China Central Television. A taped collection of Disney songs is scheduled for release this month.