If anything, I think being made in China would help matters. Let Lotus setup the chassis and suspension and let professionals build the rest of the car.
Made in China comes with its own set of challenges. As another poster mentioned, Toyota builds quality cars all over the world. I suspect they've quantified the focus points at each supplier and assembly plant on the planet, and I suspect they do vary between locations.
All it takes is the determination to identify and prioritize faults (kanban) and constantly improve them (kaizen). All of this originates from the Deming method (now, amusingly enough, replaced the Toyota method, because they carried it further) which defines the cost of poor quality as an expense, and thus justifies reducing poor quality as a way to reduce cost (and thereby increase profit/business success).
The problem is that the payoff on this sort of effort runs into decades. A 1976 Toyota Corolla isn't a wonderful car. A 2019 Corolla hits all the check boxes it could possibly be expected to, and the customer buys a competitor for any of a number of reasons, but quality is probably not on that list. The difference is 40+ years of investment
in deliberate, constant improvement.
I have no doubt at all that the first-world workforce in Hethel are motivated to do good work. I also have no doubt that they generally either know or want to find out how to make the best cars they can.
There are aspects of my 2005 Elise that are pretty well done - they used current technology waterproof connectors and wiring, for instance. There are other aspects that are decidedly deficient, for whatever reason. In the case of the wiring, I'd have to say the methods of mounting and placement of wiring harnesses would give a Toyota engineer a heart attack. I doubt that going to stud harness hangers (like my '92 Celica uses a lot of places) would have added much cost or complexity to the car had they been specified in the design phase, but they would have made some things work a lot better than the ubiquitous wire ties and fabric tape.
To be fair, my vintage Toyota does in fact have some factory wire ties here and there, but they're never the primary support of a bundle or cable - I suspect they were running production changes resulting from lots of kaizen as my car was the third year of production for that model (ST184).
A lot of what I see on my Elise looks like they really just need to take apart a Corolla or a Civic once in a while and learn how the best in the world do things on a budget. Unfortunately, that costs money - your engineers aren't engineering things if they're dismantling some other kind of car and writing lessons learned and standards documents.
Another factor is probably that they aren't selling (and thereby building) enough
cars to build them well. Car manufacturers generally crush pilot cars for a reason - it's assumed that they're full of defects and should never sully the brand by being sold. The engineers at Newport News Shipbuilding maintained, when I asked, that the best way to get quality aircraft carriers was to build one no less frequently than every five years - otherwise forgetting sets in and workforce turnover makes it too hard to make a good product efficiently.
If you're only ever building pilot cars, it's hard to focus on getting every one just right. It's hard to get economies of scale, too.
So again, it all comes back to money and focus. If Geely wants Lotus to up its engineering and manufacturing quality game, it has only to invest and prioritize accordingly and wait a few years. As Peter Drucker reminds us, "What's measured improves." In a technical business, if you want something different, you have to measure the current product's deficiencies and then deliberately change. That costs money and time. Geely has the money. We'll see if they have the vision and are willing to take the time.
Given that Lotus sports cars will always be a niche market (and therefore limited production) item, it's reasonable to assume that building them will remain a semi-cottage industry. The 'human robots' of the Pearl River Delta (or elsewhere in China) would likely not be a good fit. I suspect that Hethel is probably going to be as good a place to build Lotus sports cars as anywhere else, and the quality of the product would not be improved just
by moving assembly anywhere else.