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南京的事千万要咬牢 see: https://www.163.com/dy/article/IQQ8087V0543A3A8.html, users suggest: "because of the Nanjing business, we will be thrown in jail (in the can) for sure", users could not find more examples of 咬牢 on the web.

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咬牢 is an unusual expression or a slang word that could be easily understood in a context but hard out of context or by itself. 牢 here might mean fast or tight.

坐牢 is a word meaning serving a jail term, with 牢 being a noun.

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In this article, the line "南京的事千万要咬牢" is means something along the lines of "The ordeals of Nanjing must not be mentioned".

As the two are currently jailed but not for their acts in Nanjing, Xu is reminding Zhu to keep his mouth closed and not tell anyone about the Nanjing events otherwise they would be in hot water.

"咬牢" translates roughly to bite firmly and in this case refers to keeping one's mouth tightly closed (as to not leak any information). “牢” is used in the same sense as "牢靠“ (firm/secure) as opposed to “牢狱” (prison) here.

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  • makes sense: although 徐震 and 朱文兵 both committed the robbery it was 徐震 who killed the old lady, anyhow it seems 闭嘴 would be a much more common expression for keeping one's mouth shut
    – user6065
    Commented Apr 17 at 14:02
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Could 咬牢 be synonymous with 坐牢?

No.

南京的事千万要咬牢.
Keep your mouth shut about what happened in Nanjing.

Probably not good to broadcast: "We killed an old lady in Nanjing!"

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