The New Economic Foundation (Nef) says such reliance is adding to CO2 levels because China's factories produce more CO2 per item than British ones.
The report also says many similar goods are both imported and exported, adding needlessly to CO2 output in transport.
Over the last year, UK imports from China rose by 10% nearing 6.5 million tonnes, Nef reports.
This is the second year that the London-based think-tank has produced an "Interdependence Day" report on the extent to which Britain's economy is tied up with imports from, and impacts on, the developing world.
Ecological debt means that our demands exceed the Earth's ability to supply resources and absorb the demands placed upon it.
The organisation calculates that Chinese factories produce about one-third more carbon than European ones for making the same product; and more CO2 will be produced in transporting the goods.
"Every time we hear a government minister talking about climate change, they seem to be drawn towards scapegoating China and its rising emissions," said Nef's policy director Andrew Simms.
Two years ago, US researchers calculated that 14% of China's carbon dioxide emissions were accounted for by exports to the US.
Nef believes that international negotiations on climate change should move towards a system where emissions are attributed to the end user rather than the country producing the goods.
It points out that rising production of consumer goods in China and other developing countries also contributes to local pollution, depletion of water supplies, and deforestation.
Nef also said the international trade pattern prompted higher greenhouse gas emissions from transport but had little discernible benefit for the consumer.
During 2006, the UK exported 15,845 tonnes of chocolate-covered waffles and wafers, but imported 14,137 tonnes.
During the same period, 20 tonnes of mineral water were exported by the UK to Australia, while the UK imported 21 tonnes. And thirty-four tonnes of vacuum cleaners went from the UK to Canada, with 47 tonnes travelling the other way.
"Why would that wasteful trade be more the rule than the exception?" asked Andrew Simms.He suggested that a pricing system that reflected carbon produced in transport would be an effective way of curbing this two-way trading, by making local goods cheaper.