Seoul, Jan 13 (Agencies): For the second straight year China has emerged as the world's leading shipbuilding nation and is way ahead of SKorea which has come a distant second, data showed.

According to London-based market researcher Clarkson Research, South Korean shipbuilders won a combined 11.77 million compensated gross tons (CGTs) in new orders last year, while Chinese shipbuilders clinched a total of 15.9 million CTGs.

But in terms of order value, South Korean shipbuilders outpaced Chinese rivals.

South Korean shipbuilders won deals valued at a combined USD 30.61 billion last year, higher than the comparable figure of USD 28.29 billion for Chinese shipyards, the research institute said.

South Korean shipyards' order backlogs came to 44.88 million CGTS, far lower than 52.72 million CGTs for Chinese shipbuilders, according to Clarkson.

"For the year, South Korean shipyards are expected to win more orders for large-scale container vessels and offshore facilities in line with economic recovery, which will help narrow gaps with Chinese rivals," said an official at Hyundai Heavy Industries Co, South Korea's leading shipbuilder.

In 2003, South Korea became the world's top shipbuilding nation by outstripping Japan in three key categories -- shipbuilding volume, order backlogs and new orders.

But Chinese rivals outpaced South Korean shipyards in the number of new orders received and order backlogs in 2009 as Chinese shipbuilders gobbled up new orders at cheap prices, while their South Korean counterparts have continued to focus on high-priced vessels and offshore facilities.