TAIPEI — About 1,000 chanting pro-independence activists took to the streets of Taipei on Sunday, accusing Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou of surrendering the island's sovereignty to China.

The rally, which comes four months ahead of the 2012 presidential election, was considered part of pro-independence groups' efforts to help the leading anti-China opposition, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

"Dump Ma to safeguard Taiwan!" the crowd chanted while marching through the capital.

Pro-independence groups have accused Ma of compromising Taiwan's sovereignty in exchange for economic benefits from Beijing, a claim which has been categorically denied by Ma.

Taiwan's economy last year expanded 10.88 percent, a 24-year high, fuelled by rapid growth in China, the island's main trading partner, Ma has said.

Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved markedly since Ma came to power on a platform of beefing up trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists.

But Beijing still regards Taiwan part of its territory awaiting to be reunified -- by force if necessary -- even though the island has ruled itself since 1949, at the end of a civil war.

Ma, who is seeking a second and last four-year term, will take on DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, the island's first female presidential candidate, in January's vote.

Recent polls indicate that Ma and Tsai enjoy similar levels of public support.