"The presence of China at Davos has been negligible so far… the Chinese are not used to this type of networking convention."
In the past decade, as it has emerged as an economic powerhouse, China has been more focused on the Boao Forum for Asia, a Beijing-based rival to WEF. Davos has been viewed as a more Western-centric gathering, conducted mostly in English – although there is translation available.
There is also an annual event organized by WEF, known as the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, held in Tianjin, China in the summer.
"Until we can find a way to have the Chinese play a more active role, such as Mandarin-speaking panels, we are going to have problems with transparency," Studzinski said.
(Read more: China will never be a democracy: Futurist)
There are also concerns that China is not open enough about its economic issues, including slowing economic growth, to fully contribute to the forum.
"The problem with China is what we don't know," Lord Malloch-Brown, former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, told CNBC.
- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle. Twitter:@cboylecnbc.