[QUOTE=powerabout;172837]nobody ever had 12mile economic zone around a reef so why are the Chinese whining?[/QUOTE]
12 n.miles is territorial waters and you will notice that the US Navy and Air Force are NOT getting closer than that, although creating an island from a previously submerged reef does not give the right to make territorial claims according to UNCLOS.
China claim historical rights to ALL of the South China Sea inside an imaginary “9-dashed line” that they have drewn on the map in 1947: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/25/us-china-sea-boundary-idUSBRE84O07520120525
As for creating land out of nothing, China is not alone. Malaysia found a small rock sticking up at HHW and created and island called Layang-Layang from that to place a small Naval Base on it. The size of the island was increased to where it today has an airstrip and a Dive Resort: http://www.avillion.com/avillionlayanglayang/
The Philippines grounded an old LCT on a reef and lay claims to that.
Interestingly there are also claims to all or part of the Spratly Islands and reefs from private persons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Morac-Songhrati-Meads