High on the Chinese government’s priority list is building leaner, more competitive state companies. But the dismal earnings reported by national oil giants in recent days underscore the difficulties in meeting that goal. These companies are maintaining large workforces even as Western peers continue to slash payrolls in response to the collapse in oil prices . The firms have kept in step with the rest of the industry by reducing spending on exploration and other new investment to increase profits, but cost-cutting largely stopped when it came to payrolls with as many as hundreds of thousands of employees. The lower earnings combined with a dim outlook for 2016 illustrate the bind the Chinese government’s demands is placing on large state-owned companies. On one hand, the government’s economic agenda calls for the firms to restructure […]