China said Monday it has deployed its aircraft carrier Shandong for a military exercise launched over the weekend near Taiwan in response to a meeting between the island's leader Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

As part of the three-day air and sea drill around the island that ended the same day, the Chinese military carried out a number of simulated strikes against key targets in Taiwan and its surrounding waters. The Shandong aircraft carrier group hosted J-15 fighter sorties, according to Chinese state-run media.

The rise of cross-strait tension following the talks between the Taiwan president and the third-highest-ranking U.S. official on Wednesday in California has caused concern in the region, with Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno saying Monday that Tokyo will "monitor the situation with great attention."

Undated photo shows a J-15 fighter jet taking off from the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong. (Photo courtesy of the Japanese Defense Ministry's Joint Staff Office)(Kyodo)

Last August, China conducted large-scale military exercises in areas encircling Taiwan following a trip there by McCarthy's predecessor Nancy Pelosi, who became the first U.S. House speaker in 25 years to visit the island.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province to be brought into its fold by force if necessary.

The Shandong, commissioned in 2019, is China's second aircraft carrier. Beijing apparently intends to deploy an aircraft carrier for maritime blockade operations during contingencies to ward off U.S. military intervention.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said Monday that a total of 91 Chinese military aircraft and 12 vessels were detected around the island on Monday morning, with 54 planes crossing the median line of the strait -- a boundary that both sides had respected for decades -- or entering Taiwan's air defense identification zone.

The ministry also noted flight training was conducted on the Shandong in the Western Pacific and said it has been closely monitoring the situation to respond to these activities.

The Japanese Defense Ministry separately said it has confirmed about 120 aircraft takeoffs and landings on the Shandong over three days through Sunday.

Senior Col. Zhao Xiaozhuo, a high-ranking researcher at the People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Sciences, has said the drill was based on actual combat scenarios and aimed at checking the troops' capability to engage in joint combat operations.

He said the exercise has "shown our determination and power to seize and maintain superiority in the air, on the sea and in the information domain," adding the Chinese military is certain about "our overwhelming advantages over the 'Taiwan independence' forces."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference Monday that the greatest threat to cross-strait peace and stability is the "Taiwan independence" separatist forces and external forces' connivance and support for them, referring to the Tsai-McCarthy meeting.

"We hope the international community can see clearly the essence about the Taiwan question, stay committed to the one-China principle and firmly oppose all forms of Taiwan independence separatist activities," he said.

Taiwan will "staunchly safeguard its sovereignty and national security and stand firm in defense of democracy and freedom," its Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

The self-ruled democratic island will also continue to maintain close coordination with the United States and other like-minded countries to "jointly deter authoritarian expansion and aggression, preserve the rules-based international order, and defend a free and open Indo-Pacific," it added.

Communist-led China and Taiwan have been governed separately since they split in 1949 due to a civil war.

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China starts 3-day military drill around Taiwan after Tsai U.S. talks