Considering the comments by others, when this stand arrived I carefully unpacked it. I feel that the factory in China did a reasonable job of preparing the stand for shipment and my copy did not experience any transit-related problems. I decided to protect the finish from chipping by spraying two coats of clear polyurethane on each piece (except the undersides of the top and bottom panels). Also, I glued the16 dowel pins into their holes in the four wing panels using a strong wood glue. Technically not required, but makes for a better result, as most who have assembled "flat pack" furniture probably would agree.
Once all the panels dried, it went together with no fuss or alignment issues. There are no exposed edges that reveal the nature of the (sawdust/chips + glue) composition board lying beneath the veneer. The trim caps on the 12 locking pieces did need to be glued into place; otherwise most of them would not have held. A dab of epoxy or automotive weatherstrip adhesive worked out well. The polyurethane added about $22 to the cost (two cans, from Home Depot) but I feel the added protection was well worth the expense. Were I to do it again, I likely would have purchased semi-gloss rather than full gloss.